Travel in the COVID-Zone

Travel in the COVID-Zone
August 5, 2020

Come Fly With Me

Virgin has unveilled designs for a new supersonic plane capable of travelling three-times faster than the speed of sound. A flight leaving London could reach Sydney in just 5 hours, though the jet would remain very exclusive, carrying only a handful of passengers, and is obviously not on 2020’s list of priorities. Back in the real world, uncertainty in the industry is causing Virgin huge financial worries, leading them to file for chapter 15 bankruptcy protection in the US this week, in the fear that cash reserves will dry up if a rescue deal isn’t struck on August 25th.

While demand for long haul flights looks very uncertain, short trips around Europe appear to be on the uptick, with budget airline Easy Jet laying on more flights to meet demand for holidays. This comes in spite of the extremely volatile and quick-changing travel guidance issued by governments. All this swivel-hips, flip-flop, u-turn madness has taken its toll on citizens, leading people to make their own decisions and take the risks into their own hands!

Departures and arrivals are still pretty much nonexistent in Australia, even for travel within its own shores, as lockdowns continue to intensify. In fact, our award for world’s strangest lockdown this week goes to Aussie state of Queensland which has banned People from travelling to the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) where there are no cases

Go Quietly

According to Anchorage Daily News, Alaska’s first cruise sailing of 2020 departed Juneau on Saturday, carrying 30 crew and 37 passengers, for a weeklong voyage in Southeast Alaska. The cruise operators are planning a handful of additional voyages for the remained of 2020.

Tag; you’re it!

Singapore has introduced a tagging system to help assist in enforcing quarantine, whereby foreign visitors must wear a tagging device to ensure that they do not break the rules. Current rules dictate that only business and official travel is permitted to the country, subject to testing. It is reported that 2,200 vistors entered Singapore in June, down from 1.6 million the same month last year.

Latest Coronavirus News & Statistics

  • According to a report by the World Health Organisation, COVID-19 has provided the perfect opportunity for Suriname to identify its health industry’s shortcomings, and to put a plan in place to address them.

  • The International Finance Corporation’s (World Bank Group) new $4 billion financing platform will help increase the supply to developing countries of health supplies needed to fight the pandemic.
  • After months gone by with no coronavirus deaths, Vietnam have reported a fresh outbreak of COVID-19.

Main image: Melbourne Airport Flight Information… Non-existent! Pilot Productions

World’s Oldest Asteroid Crater Discovered In Western Australia

World's Oldest Asteroid Crater Discovered In Western Australia

Scientists at Curtin University have discovered that a crater in Yarrabubba, Western Australia, may be the world’s oldest, and that the asteroid’s landing 2.2 billion years ago may one of the reasons behind the end of the last Ice Age.

Despite the crater itself having been discovered in the outback in 1979, scientist had previously not tested the mineral deposits left behind to determine its age. The crater is not visible to the naked eye due to billions of years of erosion.

To determine when the asteroid hit the earth, scientists tested tiny zircon and monazite crystals found within the rocks whose properties will have changed upon the impact. Tiny amounts of uranium and iron deposits within the crystals enabled the scientists to figure out relatively accurately how long ago the asteroid struck.

Zircon crystal used to date the Yarrabubba impact. Curtin University

Zircon crystal used to date the Yarrabubba impact. Curtin University

The team of scientist are very excited about the age of the crater especially in the context of the Earth’s other events.

At this point, 2.2 billion years ago, the Earth’s surface was covered in ice, and it is now believed that the water vapour produced by this asteroid striking such a thick sheet of ice could be the reason behind a warming effect on the planet, perhaps even ending the Ice Age. Water vapor today is the most abundant greenhouse gas within the Earth’s atmosphere. Without greenhouse gasses, it is estimated that the average temperature of the planet would be -18 degrees Celsius, rather than the 15 degrees Celsius that currently stands. With additional greenhouse gasses entering the atmosphere, the average temperature of the planet is set to continue to rise.

Other theories have suggested that the carbon dioxide, another greenhouse gas, released from volcanic eruptions may be responsible.


Main Image: Barlangi Hill, part of the Yarrabubba crater. Graeme Churchyard, Flickr Creative Commons

 

Neil Armstrong’s Space Suit Goes On Display In Washington, D.C.

Neil Armstrong's Space Suit Goes On Display In Washington, D.C.

After an expensive 13-year restoration process and in time for the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11, where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first men to step foot on the moon, Mr Armstrong’s spacesuit has gone back on display at the Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Neil Armstrong, Kanijoman, Flickr Creative Commons

Neil Armstrong, Kanijoman, Flickr Creative Commons

The restoration project, costing around $500,000, was paid for by a Kickstarter fundraising campaign which took just 5 days to reach the funds necessary. The Kickstarter was the first campaign run by the Smithsonian Institution and was supported by over 9000 contributors from around the world.

The unveiling was attended by vice president Mike Pence, NASA’s Jim Bridenstine and Mr. Armstrong’s son Rick. Mr Armstrong himself sadly passed away in 2012.

Mike Pence, Gage Skidmore, Flickr Creative Commons

Mike Pence, Gage Skidmore, Flickr Creative Commons

“It is a honor to be here at the National Air and Space Museum to help unveil one of the most important artifacts of what President Kennedy called, correctly, ‘the most hazardous and dangerous and bravest adventure upon which mankind has ever embarked,’ said Pence. “On this day 50 years ago, Apollo 11 launched from Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center to begin its historic 4-million-mile journey to the moon. Just three days later, commander Neil Armstrong would wear the spacesuit that we will unveil in just a few moments when he took that ‘one giant leap’ for mankind.”

The suit will be on display on the National Mall on the second floor of the Air and Space Museum until 2022, where it will then be moved to its permanent home in the newly built “Destination Moon” gallery.

 

Neil Armstrong's Spacesuit, airandspace.si.edu

Neil Armstrong’s Spacesuit, airandspace.si.edu

More information:

Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum

Read: 50 Years Since Man First Stepped On The Moon

Read: Aurora Station: World’s first luxury space hotel to debut in 2022

 

 

50 Years Since Man First Stepped Foot On The Moon

50 Years Since Man First Stepped Foot On The Moon

On July 20th, 2019, it will be 50 years since man first set foot on the moon!

To find out what it was like for astronauts who went there, we interviewed Alan Bean, the 4th man to walk on the moon who rocketed there with Apollo 12, the second manned moon mission. A former US Navy test pilot, he was selected by Nasa as a trainee in 1963. He went into space twice, the first time in November 1969 as the lunar module pilot on the Apollo 12 Moon-landing mission. In 1973 he was commander of the second crewed flight to Skylab – America’s first space station. He retired from Nasa in 1981 and in later life he became an accomplished artist, producing paintings that were inspired by space. Alan Bean died in 2018.

Aurora Station: World’s first luxury space hotel to debut in 2022

Aurora Station: World's first luxury space hotel to debut in 2022

The first-ever luxury space hotel was introduced during the Space 2.0 Summit in San Jose, California. Named after the magical light phenomenon that illuminates the Earth’s polar skies, Aurora Station is being developed by Orion Span and the company’s team of space industry veterans, who have over 140 years of human space experience.

The first fully modular space station to ever debut, Aurora Station will operate as the first luxury hotel in space. The exclusive hotel will host six people at a time – including two crew members. Space travellers will enjoy a completely authentic, once-in-a-lifetime astronaut experience with extraordinary adventure during their 12-day journey, starting at $9.5 million per person. Deposits are now being accepted for a future stay on Aurora Station, which is slated to launch in late 2021 and host its first guests in 2022. The fully refundable deposit is $80,000 per person.

“We developed Aurora Station to provide a turnkey destination in space. Upon launch, Aurora Station goes into service immediately, bringing travellers into space quicker and at a lower price point than ever seen before, while still providing an unforgettable experience,” said Frank Bunger, chief executive officer and founder of Orion Span. “Orion Span has additionally taken what was historically a 24-month training regimen to prepare travellers to visit a space station and streamlined it to three months, at a fraction of the cost. Our goal is to make space accessible to all, by continuing to drive greater value at lower cost.”

During their stay on Aurora Station, travellers will enjoy the exhilaration of zero gravity and fly freely throughout Aurora Station, gaze at the northern and southern aurora through the many windows, soar over their hometowns, take part in research experiments such as growing food while in orbit (which they can take home with them as the ultimate souvenir), revel in a virtual reality experience on the holodeck, and stay in touch or live stream with their loved ones back home via high-speed wireless Internet access. While in space, Aurora Station guests will soar 200 miles above the Earth’s surface in Low Earth Orbit, or LEO, where they will find stunning views of the Earth. The hotel will orbit Earth every 90 minutes, meaning those aboard will see an average of 16 sunrises and sunsets every 24 hours. On return to Earth, guests will be treated to a hero’s welcome home.

Prior to take-off, those set to travel on Aurora Station will enjoy a three-month Orion Span Astronaut Certification (OSAC). Phase one of the certification program is done online, making space travel easier than ever. The next portion will be completed in-person at Orion Span’s state-of-the-art training facility in Houston, Texas. The final certification is completed during a traveller’s stay on Aurora Station.

“Aurora Station is incredibly versatile and has multiple uses beyond serving as a hotel,” Bunger added. “We will offer full charters to space agencies who are looking to achieve human spaceflight in orbit for a fraction of the cost – and only pay for what they use. We will support zero gravity research, as well as in space manufacturing. Our architecture is such that we can easily add capacity, enabling us to grow with market demand like a city growing skyward on Earth. We will later sell dedicated modules as the world’s first condominiums in space. Future Aurora owners can live in, visit, or sublease their space condo. This is an exciting frontier and Orion Span is proud to pave the way.”

More Information

Orion Span