Virgin Galactic's controversial journey: where does the atmosphere end and the universe begins?


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Virgin Galactic puts on a trip to space.

Where does the space start?

The answer, although you think it will simply be real depending on Who are you asking?

And this is that the exciting competition of companies, such as SpaceX, by Elon Musk, Blue Origin Jeff Bezos and Virgin Galactic Richard Branson, dominated the space flight market, revived discussion exactly what it means to get into space.

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

They make sure that this turns into a space flight … Is that true?

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Richard Branson is one of the millionaires struggling to conquer space.

"Any specific definition is arbitraria"says Phil Stooke, professor of planetary science at the Western University of Canada, BBC World.

Although there is no consensus, there is something "tradition", says Alex Ellery, professor of space technology at Carleton University in Canada, urges them to lead a response.

Invisible line

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States of America. (NOAA, for its acronym in English), "no final law to find out where the national airspace actually ends and where the universe begins. "

As a reference, maximum height which reached the plane, is close to 37 km.

The atmosphere above begins to turn too thin so that conventional aircraft can fly. Create air less thrust, so ships need to achieve much faster speeds.

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The satellites forming the Earth are 200 km long, otherwise they would not be able to last for a long time.

In addition, the atmosphere is still too dense and the 'effect' drag it"That would bring them back to the surface.

For long-lasting missions, satellites need to travel far higher. For example, the Hubble Space Telescope is nearly 600 km high.

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Hubble's space telescope is about 600 miles from Earth.

One of the most accepted limitations for marking the beginning of space is a call Line for Karman, 100 km above the sea level.

The Karman line is dealt with by the International Air Association (FAI), an organization that introduces international standards in aeronautics and astronautics

From this height, you can no longer fly conventionally (with support provided by a wing or propeller) and you have to orbit to avoid falling.

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"Most people would argue that the Karman line would constitute a legal division if the process was to be initiated," says Ellery BBC Mundo.

"But there is no statute on this."

But …

Other institutions, such as the US Air Force and NASA, have installed a stick lowest

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Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, also wants to get into space.

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

Pilots and other experts who fly over 80 km are officially considered astronauts

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Under these conditions, the plan of the year Virgin Galactic is considered as a spatial

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Spaceon, made by Elon Musk, is in space as part of its Falcon Heavy rocket project.

"At some point between 50 and 200 km, there is an area where you can not fly (usually) and you can not hover (like satellite or space ship)," explains Stooke.

"The border space is somewhere between these points. "

They cross the border

Another way to define what it means to get into space is to determine the point on which atmosphere Earth.

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In this case, it should rise at 10.000 км that some authors attributed the exosphere.

According to this definition, as explained by NOOA, an international space station 400 km away, or a spacecraft circulating more than 300 km, it is not considered that space.

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There is no consensus on where the universe begins.

"In fact, being in space means being in a blank above the atmosphere, "says Jeffrey Hoffman, professor of aeronautical engineering at the Massachusetts Technical Institute.

"But also on Orbital heights a few hundred kilometers, there is still a very thin atmosphere. "

So experts agree on where to find spatial limit, engineers and pilots are still working in a hurry to reach this limit … no matter how far they have given it.

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