PHOTOS: Community School student touts civilian space effort

The Community School of Naples

13275 Livingston Road, Naples, FL

Man has always been mystified by space, by the heavens above that seem tangible only in dreams. For the past 50 years, only a mere 530 or so people have ventured to space, of which most remained relatively close to the earth’s atmosphere.

However, with one great dream and even greater ambition, the people of Virgin Group have enabled a dream to become reality. Virgin Galactic now offers the general public the experience of space. With revolutionary technology and design, the trek offers six individuals the experience of leaving our planet behind.

As an ambitious thrill seeker myself, when I learned the president of Virgin Galactic, Will Whitehorn, was coming to my school, The Community School of Naples, to speak, I became anxious to learn more about Virgin Galactic.

As Whitehorn began his presentation this week, one could tell this was more than a job for him — the Virgin Galactic program was a mission. The passion could be seen in his eyes as he explained the seemingly infinite possibilities that Virgin Galactic could bing to the world. Everything from tourism, science expeditions, and even cargo transport was covered. The use of state-of-the-art technology to build the craft and the physics behind its flight capabilities make SpaceShip Two highly advanced and creates a viewing experience unlike any other.

By developing a unique dual craft system, Virgin Galactic has created a way to exit and enter the fringes of our atmosphere with ease. A mother-ship, VirginMotherShip Eve, carries a separate vehicle, SpaceShip Two, to a height of approximately 50,000 feet, where it is detached. In seconds, SpaceShip Two accelerates to over 30,000 mph and pierces through the atmosphere into space. For several minutes the passengers of SpaceShip Two can drift through the cabin and look down upon the world. Upon re-entry, SpaceShip Two uses its rotating wings to create drag and decelerate. The craft then glides back to the runway.

Currently, I am awaiting a final decision from the U.S. Naval Academy in hopes to one day have these types of experiences, which cannot be appreciated by reading a book or looking at a magazine; experiences that will change and develop my character for the better.

Listening to Whitehorn has inspired me to continue dreaming and reaching for my goals. He is living proof that nothing is impossible. The trek into space was once nothing more than a thought, but now it is being offered to the world. So thank you Whitehorn and those at Virgin Galactic; your achievements have ignited a passion within me to challenge the realm of what we as humans can attain.

For the young adventurer looking to experience the beauty and majesty few will ever be able to imagine, the opportunity to travel to space is once in a lifetime. Thanks to Virgin Galactic, this opportunity is now at our fingertips.

For more information, visit www.virgingalactic.com.

Connor Timmins is a senior at the Community School of Naples.

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