Humans have always been fascinated by the sky and space. For thousands of years, different civilisations across the world have formed myths about individuals who overcame human biology and ascended to the ether.
It has only been over a century since the Wright brothers, Wilbur and Orville, created the first successful powered aeroplane in 1903 and the advancements in such technology has since sky-rocketed, literally.
AFP reported that Virgin Galactic, a business started by British billionaire Richard Branson, was about to begin commercial space flights. The company would become the world's first commercial spaceline, and if you have the cash, you can become a passenger.
For $450,000 (R8,414,280), you can “reserve your place in history”, according to its website.
“By submitting your Spaceflight application and placing a $10,000 (R186,899) temporary credit card authorisation, you will guarantee your application is viewed by our team,” the website reads.
Once your application is accepted, you will be called to a personal conversation with their Astronaut Office to address information and questions.
If you wish to make a definite reservation, you will need to fill out preliminary paperwork and pay a deposit of $150,000 (R2,799,319).
“At that point, your journey to space will be confirmed and you’ll be officially welcomed into our global Future Astronaut community,” it reads.
This does not mean that you will just wait to travel into space; the organisation requires all passengers to complete rigorous training before going.
“As part of the Future Astronaut community, you will have the option to participate in a structured calendar of readiness actions, culminating in several days of training, all designed to fully prepare you for space,” said Virgin Galactic.
Weightlessness preparation, G-force preparedness, emergency protocols, and sensory saturation are all part of this training.
The company boasts that it was ushering in the new space age.
It believes that space flights have the unique ability to shift humanity’s perspectives, technology, and even the trajectory of the human species.
But is going to space as incredible as it is hyped up to be?
For “Star Trek” leading actor, William Shatner, the journey was anything but, and instead, his flight gave him existential dread and overwhelming sadness.
Shatner’s odyssey was aboard Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin craft on October 13, 2021. He opened up about the experience in his book, “Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder”.
“There was no mystery, no majestic awe to behold. All I saw was death. I saw a cold, dark, black emptiness. It was unlike any blackness you can see or feel on Earth. It was deep, enveloping, all-encompassing,” Shatner wrote.
He went on to say that it was one of the most intense mourning experiences he'd ever had, and that the contrast between the harsh coldness of space and the warm caring of the earth below filled him with great sorrow.
“Every day, we are confronted with the knowledge of further destruction of the earth at our hands, the extinction of animal species, of flora and fauna, things that took five billion years to evolve.
“And suddenly we will never see them again because of the interference of mankind. It filled me with dread. My trip to space was supposed to be a celebration; instead, it felt like a funeral,” Shatner wrote.