Don’t hijack this spaceship!

Space tour companies will be ordered to stop terrorists boarding the first flights to the final frontier.
US aviation chiefs are proposing strict new rules to protect passengers on the first sight-seeing trips above the atmosphere.
Entrepreneurs including Sir Richard Branson have announced plans to begin commercial sub-orbital flights by 2008.
His Virgin Galactic company is to fly from a purpose-built spaceport in New Mexico. More than 50 wannabe astronauts have aready each paid a $20,000 (£11,000) deposit for the trip of a lifetime.
The US Federal Aviation Authority says airport-style checks must be carried out to prevent any participant carrying on board “any explosives, firearms, knives or other weapons.”
And they will have to check names on the “no fly” list held by the US’s Homeland Security Department. It is part of a list of draft proposals by the FAA to govern space tourism.
Others include that participants must be warned of the dangers of space travel including the number who have died. They must also be told the safety record of their own vehicle, including any problems.
They will be told that the US government has not certified their spacecraft as safe. And they must be trained before flight to respond to emergencies including smoke, fire and loss of cabin pressure.
Reassuringly for passengers, the FAA orders that the space tour companies must provide them with air to breathe. It demands “atmospheric conditions adequate to sustain life and consciousness for all inhabited areas within a vehicle.”
It also says that the spacecraft’s crew must be qualified and have official FAA pilot certificates.
Virgin has ordered a fleet of five spacecraft following the successful flights of the privately produced SpaceShipOne last year from the Mojave Desert in California.

Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.
Paul Sutherland

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Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.

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