Your are going to read two adaptations of a news article from the BBC about space tourism. Read the texts carefully and complete the tasks.
1 Virgin Galactic: The Logical Next Step
The news that Sir Richard Branson, Chairman of the airline Virgin Atlantic, has signed a deal to take paying passengers into space suggests that “out of this world” tourism will soon be within reach of ordinary people.
In the past, space travel has been open only to the privileged few; either government-backed astronauts or millionaires with enough spare cash to book a flight on a Russian Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station.
But Sir Richard says this will eventually come down to a level where “masses of people” will get to enjoy the space experience.
Virgin Galactic’s fleet will be based on the technology developed by aviation legend Burt Rutan for SpaceShipOne, the Ansari X-Prize contender which made history in June as the first private manned craft to travel 100km (62 miles) above Earth—the official boundary of space.
Short But Sweet
Jeffrey Lenorovitz, a spokesperson for the Orbital Recovery Group, which aims to build a so-called “space tug” to rescue malfunctioning satellites commented: “The idea is to crush the mindset that government has to be involved, because industry and entrepreneurs have and will respond.”
Not everyone is enthusiastic about the project, however. “Eventually, we want to get prices down to levels where masses of people can enjoy space.”
While they agree that the high cost of tickets should not be a deterrent for many, several have pointed out that the Virgin SpaceShips will be sub-orbital vehicles, like SpaceShipOne. Sub-orbital flights break through the atmosphere before falling back to Earth. They give passengers only a few minutes of time in true space. These vehicles do not have the velocity to enter into orbit around our planet.
Konrad Dannenberg, an original member of the German rocket team that kickstarted America’s space programme after WWII told BBC News Online recently: “[Burt Rutan] eventually wants to take well-paying passengers into space and to let them see from up there what it looks like down here. But he is not in Earth orbit. To get into Earth orbit is still a pretty large, pretty major step. I have heard Rutan has plans to do that eventually. I am really looking forward to hearing what he wants to do.”
Jeffrey Lenorovitz formerly worked for MirCorp which several years ago worked up a proposal for a private-access space station. However, the idea did not receive the necessary backing from international space agencies and investors.
Of course, there are inevitable safety issues involved; space travel—as history has shown—can be a dangerous business. But many feel that, if regulated properly, the inherent risk involved in flying into space need not be much greater than that involved in flying on commercial aircraft.
“Airlines need to follow regulations and standards, and there is no reason why this should not be applied to space travel as well,” says Mr Lenorovitz. “For me, [this venture] is the next logical step to get the engineers, the diners, and the dreamers together with someone who knows how to market transportation for various classes of people. It’s a step towards taking access to space out of the hands of the chosen few.”
Six paragraphs have been removed from the article. Choose from the paragraphs (A–G) the one which fits each gap (1–6). There is one extra paragraph which you do not need to use. For each of the remaining questions, choose the answer which you think fits best according to the text.
2 It’s Tourism, But Now As We Know It
Until now, space travel has been the preserve of either trained astronauts or the extremely rich with enough money to book a ride on a Russian Soyuz rocket. However, that all looks set to change, as the dream of space tourism for the masses moves closer to reality.
The flight was important not just because of what it achieved, but also because it changed a common misconception about space travel—that only governments had the ways and means of sending people into space. For the first time, people realised that private individuals could design, build and fly their own spacecraft.
Although a trip will still be expensive—about £125,000 for a three-hour flight, with only a few minutes in space itself—it is hoped that this price will eventually come down to the point where more people could afford, as Branson says, ‘to go into space, to become astronauts, to see the Earth, to enjoy weightlessness.’
Others argue, however, that ultimately the opposite might be the case. John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate is one. He believes that opening spaceflight up to the masses could help spark a global conservation ethic that stems the tide of environmental destruction on Earth.
Grunsfeld, a former NASA astronaut who flew on five space shuttle missions from 1995 to 2009, says that the view looking down changed dramatically from his first flight to his last. ‘The Earth looks totally different now. We are very visibly and significantly modifying the surface of the Earth, modifying the atmosphere. You can see that easily from space.’
Unfortunately, however, Virgin spacecraft are sub-orbital, which means that unlike the space shuttle, they only break through the atmosphere before falling back to earth. In the few short minutes they spend in space, passengers will just have time to enjoy a few minutes of weightlessness, and see a black sky and the curvature of the Earth. Contemplating the environmental and socio-political state of the planet beneath them will probably be the last thing on their minds.
Jeffrey Lenorovitz, spokesman for the private space agency Mircorp, believes that space stations would allow for this. Mircorp have, in fact, already drawn up plans for a private space station, although so far they have not received the financial backing required to put those plans into action. However, Lenorovitz is optimistic that one day people will indeed be spending their holidays in zero gravity, and that that day is not too far away.
Six paragraphs have been removed from the article. Choose from the paragraphs (A–G) the one which fits each gap (1–6). There is one extra paragraph which you do not need to use.