Boldly go...to USA in one hour
Transatlantic flying seemed impossible not so long ago but we may one day be able to get from the UAE to America in less time than it takes to drive from Dubai to Abu Dhabi.
That’s the view of the head of Virgin Galactic, who was at the launch of a major space programme in the capital yesterday.
Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides announced that his company is setting up a ‘Spaceport’ in Abu Dhabi and will send tourists shooting into space. He believes it will be possible for flyers to leave the UAE and land in the United States 60 minutes later.
“The International Space Station travels around the world in 45 minutes, so it’s definitely possible,” Whitesides told 7DAYS at the Global Aerospace Summit in Abu Dhabi.
“Obviously, a passenger craft needs to go slower, but not that much slower.”
Passengers would be blasted high up into orbit before flying back to earth on the other side of the world.
Whitesides said it was possible to get UAE residents as far west as New Mexico within the hour but that reusable flight technology must be improved to bring costs down.
“When you look at the cost in today’s money of the commercial flights in the 1930s and 1940s, you’re talking $70,000 to cross the Atlantic,” he said. “The cost dropped dramatically over time and it will in our business too.”
Whitesides said they are considering setting up space camps and tourist attractions around the launch site to encourage people to come to the UAE.
“Tourists may not necessarily take the flights but they will want to take their families along to see it,” he said. Galactic is one-third owned by the Abu Dhabi government’s investment firm Aabar.