'A Dream Realised'

Santhosh George Kulangara becomes the first Indian Space Tourist. The Virgin Galactic, a venture of Sir.Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic is behind this dream flight. They have confirmed the seat as passenger number 38.
The authorities of the flight have allowed Santhosh George to film the entire process of preparations and flight sequences. There will be three days of flight preparations, to equip with the basic knowledge for the trip.
Santhosh George will spend three hours in zero-gravity environment.

Santhosh George successfully completes the second phase training

The first Indian space tourist designate Santhosh George Kulangara has successfully completed the second phase training for the space travel conducted on July 28, 2008. The training was conducted at the NASTAR (National Aerospace Training and Research) Centre in Southampton, Pennsylvania, America.
The training was primarily focused on making the space tourists familiar with the tremendous fluctuations and changes in gravity that occur while entering into space and re-entering the atmosphere. When the travellers get into space, the gravity will rise up to 3 times and while returning to the atmosphere, it will grow up to 6 times. This will cause severe physical and mental pressures to the travellers. In order to overcome these kinds of problems, the travellers were given training such as ‘G Tolerance Flight’ and ‘Sub Orbital Flight’. The training was given in the centrifuge simulator, which can artificially create six times stronger gravitational force.
The unveiling ceremony of the mother ship developed by the Virgin Galactic Company was also held in connection with this. The mother ship named ‘White Knight II - Eve’ was unveiled by the chief of Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson, and designer scientist Burt Rutan at the Mojave Space Port in America. Santhosh George Kulangara also attended the ceremony along with several dignitaries and international journalists.

Santhosh George Kulangara Experienced Zero Gravity

Florida : Santhosh George Kulangara, the first Indian space tourist designate, has successfully completed the ‘zero gravity’ training. It was in the special aircraft named G Force One which took off from Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, USA that he got the training. The special training for zero gravity state was conducted at the fag end of the three-day-long training programme meant for the space tourists. The zero gravity training that started at one o’ clock IST on August 12, lasted for about four hours. The travellers on board were in zero gravity state for about one hour, during the training.
Besides Santhosh George Kulangara from India, two British and ten Americans had undergone the training during this time. There were also 12 other members inside the training vehicle, including trainers, technical experts and medical team. The G Force aircraft was taken to a height of 40,000 feet above the ground level and was brought down quickly to create zero gravity. During this time, the travellers including Santhosh George glided along inside the hall-like area in the aircraft. During these four hours the G Force aircraft went up several times and came down vertically. After each training flight, the medical team examined the travellers. Santhosh George was found ok in the medical examination.
Santhosh George said it was an exciting experience to glide inside the G-Force vehicle with the co-travellers. He has captured all these training sessions in his camera as well.
The training programme for the space tourists was organised by the Zero Gravity Corporation in association with Virgin Galactic. The same facilities used for training the NASA astronauts were used for training the space tourists.
The G Force vehicle took off from the same Space Port from where the Endeavour Space Shuttle had been launched to the International Space Station with seven astronauts recently. It was informed earlier that the zero gravity training might be postponed if the Endeavour launching faced any delay. Santhosh George said that he had seen the preparations for the re-entry of Endeavour there.


The History:
The Ansari X Prize

• Objective: to provide the catalyst for private sector innovation in the field of manned space exploration.
• Rules: private funding, design and manufacture of a vehicle capable of delivering the weight of 3 people including one actual person to sub-orbital space defined as an altitude of at least 100kms. The vehicle had to be 80% reusable and fly twice within a two week period.
• Winner: Mojave Aerospace Ventures a Paul G Allen company with Burt Rutan and SpaceShipOne on October 4th 2004. Pilot Brian Binnie (see www.scaled.com)


• Project funded by Paul Allen – co founder of Microsoft at an approx cost of £26m
• Designed at built by Burt Rutan and Scaled Composites in Mojave CA
• Flew to space 3 times in 2004
• The world’s first private manned space vehicle
• Now hanging in the Milestones of flight gallery at the Smithsonian Museum, DC

The Technology

• A completely new approach to manned space travel
• Air (horizontal) launch from the “WhiteKnight” purpose built aircraft not ground (vertical) launch – intrinsically safer and more environmentally friendly
• All composite construction not metal – light strong and resilient
• Hybrid rocket motor uses benign fuel and oxidiser (rubber and nitrous oxide for SpaceShipOne) and is controllable
• Re-entry controlled aerodynamically by unique wing feathering design – heat free and carefree
• Un-powered (glide) runway landing

Virgin’s Involvement

• Seeking investment opportunities since late 90’s when Galactic name was registered
• News of Burt Rutan’s credentials through sponsorship of the Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer – world’s most fuel efficient powered aircraft
• Agreed with Burt Rutan and Paul Allen to invest in development and construction of second generation vehicle for commercial venture – the world’s first spaceline
• Ordered 5 SpaceShipTwo’s and 2 WhiteKnightTwo’s to be manufactured by the SpaceShip Company (a JV between Scaled Composites and Virgin) and operated by Virgin Galactic


• Uses all the same basic technology, construction and design as SpaceShipOne prototype
• Is around twice as large
• Will carry 6 passengers and 2 pilots
• Cabin approx the size of a Falcon 900 exec jet
• Whole fuselage used for passenger cabin – no “floor”
• Large windows positioned right round the cabin
• Reclining seats to maximise cabin space in zero g and for re-entry
• New carrier aircraft will have approx wing size of a 757


• SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo now under course of construction at Scaled Composites.
• Unveiling of new vehicles within the next 12 months or so
• Testing to commence shortly after unveiling
• Test flight period envisaged 12 – 18 months
• Safety first, we are not in a race, we will launch when Burt and Virgin believe it is safe to do so
• We aim to fly 500 people in the first year and 50,000 in the first 10 years
• First commercial flights likely to operate from Mojave
• Move to New Mexico “Spaceport America” in 2010/11

SpaceShipTwo Flight Stats

• Total flight time around 2 hours
• climb phase 60 mins, rocket boost 2 mins, zero g 4 -5 mins, re-entry 2 mins, glide phase 50 mins (all approx)
• G Forces: rocket boost max 3.5 G (x and z); re-entry max 6 G (x only whilst reclined)
• Speed: supersonic within 10 seconds of rocket ignition and approx Mach 3 within 30 seconds of rocket ignition

The Experience

• 3 days of preparation, medical checks, bonding, G force acclimatisation as part of flight cost.
• WhiteKnightTwo will act as a training platform with a passenger cabin that replicates the spaceship.
• All passengers will be able to leave their seats and float in zero G should they wish and enjoy view of space and the earth stretching for around 1000 miles in any direction

Environmental Credentials

• Air launch means short rocket burn – around half of it occurs outside the atmosphere
• Reusable spaceship – no space debris
• WhiteKnightTwo uses latest highly efficient turbo fan jet engines
• SpaceShipTwo uses momentum and gravity from the time the rocket motor shuts down to landing
• Co2 emissions per passenger on a SpaceShipTwo flight will be approx 60% of a per passenger return commercial London / New York flight. Around 70% of the spaceflight Co2 emissions come from the WhiteKnight carrier aircraft. This is a clean spaceship!
• SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo will provide space access, first to paying passengers and then for science research and payload deployment, with an incomparably smaller environmental impact than anything that has gone before. We need space but we need better access to it.




Copyright© 2006-2012 Labour India Publications Ltd® All Rights Reserved