Monday , January 18 2021

The controversial voyage of Virgin Galactic: Where does the atmosphere and space begin?



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Virgin Galactic Bets Take tourists into space.

Where does space begin?

The answer, although you think it's going to be simple, actually dependent Who are you asking?

And that's because the exciting competition of companies like SpaceX by Alon Musk, a blue source by Jeff Bezos, Galactic by Richard Branson to dominate the market for space flights has revived the argument On exactly what it means to get into space.

  • The billionaires competing in the new space race

The flight test of Virgin Galactic on Thursday plans to exceed 80 km altitude.

They promise it will turn him into a space flight … is that true?

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Richard Branson is one of the millionaires competing to occupy space.

"Any specific definition is arbitraria"Says Phil Stokke, a professor of planetary sciences at the University of West Canada, to BBC World.

But although there is no consensus, there are some "Traditions", As Alex Ellery, a professor of space technology at Carleton University in Canada, calls on them to guide the response.

Invisible line

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States. (NOAA, in its initials in English), "None Final Law Determine where national airspace really ends and where outer space begins. "

As a reference point, Maximum height The arrival of a plane is close to 37 km.

Above, the atmosphere begins to turn Too thin So a conventional plane can fly. The air produces Less push, So ships should achieve much higher speeds.

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Satellites that orbit the Earth are located after 200 kilometers because otherwise they could not last for long.

Further down, the atmosphere is still too dense "effect of trailer"It will pull them back to the surface.

For long-term missions, satellites must go a long way Higher. The Hubble Space Telescope, for example, is nearly 600 kilometers.

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The Hubble Space Telescope orbits 600 kilometers from Earth.

One of the most common limitations to mark the beginning of space is conversation line of Kerman, 100 km above sea level.

The Kerman Line was taken as a reference by the International Federation of Aeronautics and Astronautics (FAI), an organization that sets international standards in aeronautics Astronautics

From this height you can no longer fly in the traditional way (with support that wings or propellers) and you need to track to avoid falling.

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"Most people will argue that Korman will be the legal division in the case of litigation," Ellery told BBC Mundo.

"However, there is no law on it."

but …

Other institutions such as the US Air Force and NASA placed the bar the lowest

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Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, also wants to reach space.

For them, space begins 80 km Of height, that is, 20 km below the Carmen line.

Pilots and other experts who manage to fly over the same 80 km are officially considered Astronauts

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Under these conditions, the flight plan for Virgin Galactic does qualify as Spatially

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Spaceon, by Alon Musk, launched a Tesla car into space as part of its Falcon heavy rocket project.

"At some point between 50 km to 200 km there is an area where you can not fly (traditionally) and you can not orbit (like a satellite or a spaceship)," explains Stooke.

" Border Of a place is somewhere between these points. "

Crossing the border

Another way to define what it means to reach space is to determine the point at which it is Atmosphere Of the earth.

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In that case, he would have to go up 101000 km Because some authors attribute the exosphere.

Under this definition, as explained by NOOA, the International Space Station, which is 400 km away, or a space shuttle that covers more than 300 km, will not be considered space.

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There is no agreement on where space begins.

"Basically, being in space means being inside Rick Above the atmosphere, "says Perry Hoffman, a professor of aeronautical and aerospace engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"However, even in the Orbital heights Of several hundred kilometers, still has a very thin atmosphere. "

So, while experts agree on where to locate the Spatial border, Engineers and pilots are still working fast to reach this limit … no matter how much they mention it.

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