Richard Branson’s flight into space yesterday caused great expectations. He did it in the VSS Unity spaceplane of the Virgin Galactic Project. But let’s see, did he really get into space? Who defines where it starts? Despite being branded as space travel, it’s a suborbital flight.
Where does space begin?
First of all, it is necessary to first delineate what is called space. There is no one-size-fits-all term for the height at which space begins. The International Aviation Association has set up the so-called Kármán Line. It is located 100 kilometers from the surface of the earth. And it is considered the place where the atmosphere ends and space begins. What does the US regulation say? It gives anyone who flies more than 50 miles the title of astronaut. For them, the height at which space begins.
According to this, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin will reach space. However, it will be a suborbital flight. They cannot be compared to other spacecraft flights. These are able to reach the International Space Station ISS.
These two companies will briefly cross the frontier of space. Sure, according to US regulations. Here you can experience weightlessness for a few minutes. But they won’t fly fast enough to stay in orbit.
Go into orbit
What if Richard Branson’s flight into space reaches 28,000 km / h or more? Instead of falling to the ground, it will keep falling around the earth. This continual decline is what it means to be in orbit. Thus the satellites, the ISS and the moon remain above our planet. Everything else comes back to earth. And that’s why it flies on a suborbital trajectory.
The two space probes launched in July 2021 will not reach orbit. But going into space in a private spaceship is a great achievement. An important milestone in human history.
What do those who board these suborbital flights get? Certainly a few minutes of intoxicating weightlessness. And they will earn their astronaut wings.