L’Italy returns to space. The first European crew to board the Virgin Galactic for the suborbital flight that will take off from Space Port of the company in the Las Cruces desert in New Mexico, between late September and early October, will be Italian. As reported by the Sole24Ore, the team will be composed by 2 officers of theair Force and a researcher from National Research Council (CNR) whose task will be to carry out various experiments, from the field of medicine to the physiology of space flight.
Therefore, the agreement signed in October 2019 with theair Force, that for Virgin Galactic marks his first private mission with scientific purposes. The flight of the signed space agency Virgin it will be carried out on board the spacecraft SpaceShipTwo six-seater, designed to fly both passengers and payloads into space for tourism and research purposes, as technology now offers the ability to conduct high-atmosphere study.
The mission of Virgin Galactic it consists of the spacecraft which, after being released from the mother plane (carrier) around 15 kilometers in height, turns on its engine by launching SpaceShipTwo towards the suborbital altitudes, up to exceeding for short periods the so-called Karman line 100 kilometers from the earth, the limit between airspace in the atmosphere and extra-atmospheric space.
During the suborbital space flight, following the shutdown of the engine, the researchers will be able to conduct the experiments in conditions of microgravity, difficult to achieve on the ground. We then re-enter the atmosphere to descend and land towards the New Mexico spaceport.
Towards suborbital flights in Italy
“L’air Force, with the next suborbital flight it will be able to acquire important expertise to be able to replicate this form of flight also on the national territory “, commented the colonel Marco Galgani, deputy chief General Space Office of the Air Force.
For this purpose, theair Force will cooperate with Enac And Asi (the Italian Space Agency, ed) to achieve this ambitious result in the shortest possible time. “On the shuttle Virgin Galactic“, he added Galgani, “13 scientific and aeromedical experiments will be conducted in flight in conditions of microgravity”.
The Grottaglie spaceport
The possibility of carrying out commercial space flights in Italy already has a framework within the Taranto Grottaglie airport since theENAC (National Civil Aviation Authority) has designated it as a National Spaceport.
From here the Italian suborbital flights will depart, the experimentation of which is expected to start in 2023, as reported recently by the director of theEnac, Alessio Quaranta. Once again, the collaboration with Virgin Galactic who in 2018 signed a memorandum with Altec (the joint venture between Thales Alenia Space Italy andItalian space agency) to create one in Italy too spaceport And suborbital flights on the example of the system SpaceShipTwo and vector WhiteKnightTwo.
Space at the service of SMEs
As the Sole24Ore, the Commercial Space Flight it is therefore destined to assume more and more importance for the applications that will be made of it in the real economy. An example is the collaboration of Thales Alenia Space Italy with the American company of Houston, Axiom Space, which is planning the putting into orbit of a space station for commercial use whose pressurized modules of the station will also be built by the Italian company.
Always with Axiom Space the collaboration agreement between theair Force and the Emilia Romagna region to define supply contracts with small and medium-sized enterprises in the region for the completion of the modules that will make up the new space station. In the future there will be an increasing need for growth Space.
The clamor aroused by the space travel of the two of the richest men on earth, sir Richard Branson And Jeff Bezos, patron of Amazon, sparked enthusiasm about the more or less futuristic perspectives of space tourism.
Virgin Galactic by Branson e Blue Origin Bezos first ushered in this era, selling super expensive tickets to potential space travelers: for the modest sum of $ 450,000 several hundred potential travelers (according to the company) lined up ready to board Virgin Galactis. It was an auction instead to assign the seat for a trip on Blue Origin, the first awarded for $ 28 million to an anonymous bidder who withdrew at the last minute.