|“We circled and then accelerated past the sound barrier to Mach 1.9. We then went upwards to about 70,000 feet. Near the top I felt weightlessness for several seconds. I saw the curvature of the earth and the dark sky above.”
It wasn’t until we’d been offering flights at Sokol Airbase for awhile that word got out. When the base’s MiG-31 was needed for a special project, the MiG-29 was offered as an Edge of Space substitute. You can fly just as high in the MiG-29 plus you get the bonus of a better cockpit view.
The MiG-29 provides a better view of the curvature of the earth and darkness of the sky at 70,000 feet than the MiG-31. Best of all, on your way back to earth, you can experience some of the incredible aerobatics that have made the MiG-29 a legend.
Our most popular Edge of Space program is a five-day, four night adventure that includes time in both Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod, where our flights take place. The price of your adventure includes the one-day use of all necessary safety equipment for your 21-22 km high flight, including a special high-altitude pressure suit.
Prepare to take off for the Edge of Space, where the sky appears black above and blue below and you can begin to see the curvature of the earth. It’s an incredible adventure and the highest flight available….today.
Our very first high-altitude MiG flight took place back in 1994 at Zhukovsky Air Base, the site of our earliest MiG adventures. Adventurers with a desire to fly high climbed into the front cockpit of the incredible MiG-25 Foxbat for a high-speed climb to where the sky appears black above and blue below.
Sadly, Russian authorities retired our beloved MiG-25 and replaced the remaining MiG-25s in service with the newer, more modern MiG-31 Foxhound. The MiG-31 was designed to provide greater stability and maneuverability at low level, making it more suited to a variety of military operations. Unfortunately, the view from the rear co-pilot seat of the MiG-31 is less than incredible. That’s why we’re happy to now be offering our Russian Edge of Space flights exclusively in the legendary MiG-29 Fulcrum.
Incredible Adventures – 1903 Northgate Blvd., Sarasota, FL 34234 – phone: 800-644-7382 or 941-346-2603
How much does space travel cost?
Spaceflight has traditionally been a government-led activity — and it’s never been cheap. But the stratospheric cost of putting people and payloads into space is finally starting to fall, thanks in part to the rise of SpaceX and other private spaceflight companies.
Here’s a look at what it costs to go to space, whether it’s another satellite that needs to be placed in orbit or an adventurous billionaire looking for a joyride around the moon.
Sending up a satellite
Using its 230-foot-tall Falcon 9, SpaceX charges $62 million to send into orbit commercial satellites weighing up to 50,000 pounds. The closest American competitor is the United Launch Alliance Atlas V, which starts at $73 million for a 41,000-pound payload.
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Those are just starting prices; government agencies typically pay more for a long list of extra services. The Air Force, for example, is paying SpaceX $96.5 million to launch a GPS satellite in 2019.
Flying to the International Space Station
Since NASA mothballed its space shuttles in 2011, NASA has relied on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to get astronauts to the ISS. Russia has been steadily raising the price of Soyuz seats, reaching $82 million each in 2015. The agency last purchased Soyuz seats for $75 million apiece in 2017.
NASA hopes to end its reliance on Russia in 2019, when SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Boeing’s Starliner capsules begin “taxi” flights to the ISS. Seats on those spacecraft are expected to cost about $58 million.
How much would I have to pay for a flight into space?
Depending on where you’re going, a ticket could set you back anywhere from $250,000 to tens of millions of dollars.
If you’re looking simply to cross the 62-mile-high Karman line that marks the boundary between the upper atmosphere and outer space, Virgin Galactic says it will take you there for $250,000. The company says about 650 people already have tickets for the suborbital flights, to be made aboard a winged vehicle called SpaceShipTwo. A date for customer flights has yet to be announced.
Jeff Bezos’ rocket company, Blue Origin, plans something similar — sending space tourists on brief suborbital flights using its New Shepard rocket system. The company has yet to set ticket prices or say when paid flights might begin.
Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin passengers will join the fewer than a dozen private citizens who have funded their own trips into space. From 2001 to 2009, the Vienna, Virginia-based firm Space Adventures worked with Russia’s space agency to send eight people to the ISS on flights lasting 10 or more days.
Space A colossal elevator to space could be going up sooner than you ever imagined
The world’s first private astronaut, a wealthy American engineer named Dennis Tito, reportedly paid $20 million to spend eight days in space in 2001. More recently, Guy Laliberté, the co-founder of Cirque du Soleil, shelled out $35 million for an ISS trip in 2009. Space Adventures still advertises Soyuz flights and plans to start booking trips to the ISS aboard Boeing’s Starliner.
In September 2018, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced that Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa would ride the company’s yet-to-be-built Big Falcon Rocket on a trip around the moon. Neither Musk nor Maezawa, who said he would take along seven artists, would discuss the mission’s cost.
What about other rockets?
Small satellites may qualify for a free ride to space through NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites program, which helps universities and research groups fly standardized satellites called CubeSats aboard rockets as secondary payloads.
If your satellite can’t hitch a free ride, you can book a NASA sounding rocket to the edge of space for as little as $1 million. For orbital flights of payloads weighing less than 500 pounds, Los Angeles-based Rocket Lab offers launches of its Electron rocket from New Zealand for about $5 million.
From there, the price goes up steeply. Northrop Grumman’s Pegasus rocket, which is air-launched from the belly of a jumbo jet, can place 1,000 pounds in orbit for about $40 million. Stratolaunch, a new venture bankrolled by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, plans to launch Pegasus rockets from its own colossal airplane before offering an expanded line of rockets capable of carrying up to 13,000 pounds. The company has yet to disclose prices.
NASA is developing its Space Launch System, which will carry astronauts to the moon and Mars. The rocket’s per-launch cost has not been disclosed, but the agency now spends at least $2 billion per year on the project. The maiden flight isn’t expected until 2020.
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The first woman to fly commercial to space describes what it’s like to see Earth from 55 miles up
Beth Moses will use her flight to craft future astronaut training
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Virgin Galactic’s astronaut instructor, Beth Moses, looks out the window during her first test flight Image: Virgin Galactic
On February 22nd, Virgin Galactic’s passenger spaceplane VSS Unity took to the skies above the Mojave Desert in California during a test flight, carrying a type of rider it’s never had before. On board the vehicle was Beth Moses, the first passenger the Unity has ever flown. Along with the plane’s two pilots, the trio climbed to a height of 55.85 miles (89.9 kilometers) — what many consider to be the beginning of space.
The short flight qualified Moses for commercial astronaut wings from the Federal Aviation Administration. And that means she’s now the first woman to fly to space on a commercial vehicle.
After the groundbreaking test flight, we caught up with Moses to learn about what it was like to see the curvature of the Earth and experience weightlessness in actual space. We also wanted to know how she will use this flight to improve Virgin Galactic’s future customer experience. The company, which promises quick flights to the edge of space, has sold hundreds of tickets on the VSS Unity to paying customers. And as the chief astronaut instructor at Virgin Galactic, Moses will be responsible for training hopeful passengers for the flight she just experienced.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
I understand that you have a lot of experience already with zero G flight. What had your training been like, up until this past flight?
Before I was assigned to this flight, I had many years at NASA and five years at Virgin Galactic. And through those two roles, I’ve done a lot of weightless research in parabolic aircraft and high-G exposure in both aerobatic aircraft and centrifuge experience, as well as many extreme environment tests in the verification of the International Space Station hardware. So things like human thermal vacuum testing, pressurized line testing, neutral buoyancy testing, sort of the whole industry suite of test environments. So that was really the background that allowed me to sort of rapidly train for this particular site. So when I went into this particular flight, I brought sort of that wealth of experience with me.
What did it feel like when you found out you would be riding on the flight?
What did your training entail to get ready for this mission?
I’m the chief astronaut instructor at Virgin Galactic, so part of the flight was to test the training program that our customers will enjoy. And it was really fun! It was sort of the best of both worlds as far as I’m concerned, because I was able to construct a good test along the lines of what I’ve done in my career previously, and train myself to do that test, along with the help of some experts here at Galactic, like our pilots and our medical staff.
VSS Unity with its engine ignited Image: Virgin Galactic
And of course, our customers won’t be trained to do any particular test or task; they’ll just be able to enjoy themselves. But it was sort of a great mix of leveraging my past, getting a good test done, and then starting to look to the future of how it would be best and most enjoyable to train our customers.
Can you go into the specifics of what the test entailed?
I was looking at the customer provisions in the cabin, and our pilots flew so true that I was able to unstrap when we got to space, so I was able to leave my seat. Part of what I was looking at was how you can best get out of your seat and get back in your seat. So I egressed my seat, not just once, but twice in order to test that.
And then I also went to various areas in the cabin at specific times in the flight profile to figure out where is best to be in the cabin, what the views are like, how the cabin moved about you. Because when you’re out of your seat, the vehicle is still moving. And I was looking at things like our colors and our finishes, and how does it all work together to give a really seamless space experience. I had a strict timeline of where to be, and what to evaluate, and how to do it.
What was going through your mind before you got to weightlessness, during the drop and then the climb to space?
I remember distinctly, during the climb to space, just thinking that we were going so purely up. In fact, I said that. Most of my evaluations were to camera, and I kept saying, “Up! We’re still going up; we’re still going up!” And I was very excited. It was just stupendous.
Beth Moses with pilots Dave Mackay and Michael “Sooch” Masucci Image: Virgin Galactic
Also what was going through my mind was that Dave [Mackay] was flying perfectly straight, which was noticeable to me. Because in our simulations here in the pilot simulator, I can see the horizon as the ship sort of, you know, turns a little bit when in space. But in the real flight, the vehicle never rotated at all because Dave was flying so true. And so I didn’t catch a glimpse of the horizon. So it was just pure, pure black right away. I felt like I was in space the minute we lit the rocket motor. It was just unbelievable. I loved it.
Describe to me the experience of being in space. We all saw that picture of you staring out the window in complete awe.
It was just magic and almost indescribable.
I felt very fortunate to fly where I did and the day I did. I felt like the Earth was so beautiful, but even more so than you can describe or can be imagined. I happened to fly on a day where we had snow on the mountains in the southwestern United States. And I remember vividly that appearance of glistening white mountaintops and blue Pacific Ocean and the green of the Earth. I told someone the other day I felt like Earth was wearing her diamonds for us that day, because it was so, so glistening and sharp.
It just took my breath away. It was amazing. I hope everyone can see it.
It’s so funny that you say that because when I spoke with Virgin Galactic pilot Mark “Forger” Stucky, he said the same thing. He was surprised at how sharp it was. It was like a high-definition screen for him.
Absolutely, and it was so noticeable. And I thought I felt infinitely high. You know the Earth was so curved and the ocean was so massive. I felt like we were just suspended with this God’s-eye view of the world. It was just sharp and beautiful.
That’s what I often hear when I speak to astronauts. They have this overview effect. Do you feel like you have a changed perspective now that you’ve seen the world from that high up?
I think that’s going to settle in over time. I do feel very much more connected to myself and the people around me and planet Earth. I’m one of those glass-half-full, people-are-good, Earth-is-lovely kind of people. And I feel that even more so now.
Beth Moses celebrating after the flight with the two pilots, Dave Mackay (L) and Mike ‘Sooch’ Masucci (C), as well as Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides (R) Image: Virgin Galactic
I guess the biggest thing that’s happened over the last week or so is that I’ve relaxed about all the minutiae of life in a big way. The bottom line is, after my spaceflight, I am so much more relaxed and so much more optimistic about humanity in the future. I don’t know if that’s the overview effect, and it certainly wasn’t any kind of miraculous epiphany. It was just sort of a slow dawning of reality.
But I’m very grateful for it and grateful for the flight. And I do think that the more people that see it, the better off we will all be.
Based on your experience — and what you felt and did in the cabin — how will you use that to shape future astronaut training? What are some specific ways that you hope to craft that training in the future?
As a very specific example, one thing I had not anticipated was that there are ice crystals on the back of the rocket nozzle that flake off when you get to space. And I had never consciously heard or noticed that. I think it’s probably been recorded and been put in debriefs, but it hadn’t caught my ear before. And one thing that caught my eye out the window was this small bit of ice floating past the window. And I want to make sure that our customers know to expect that and that’s normal. That’s not a little piece of the ship coming off. It’s just ice from the rocket nozzle.
I can now take my first-hand experience and say, “Hey, you guys are going to notice that out the window. It’s beautiful. It’ll catch your eye. You might wonder what it is. It’s just a piece of ice. It’s normal. Enjoy it.”
Then the other thing I will do is take time estimates off of the video. One of the reasons I got out of my seat twice and returned to my seat twice was to get a very good understanding of exactly how long that takes and how that’s been done, in order to be able to roll that into training. For example, when should people start to head back to their seats? It’s a very valid question. We’ve tested that on the ground, and we tested it in parabolic aircraft, but we’ve never done it for real in space in our ship.
And how many times are you going to fly again? Will other employees be going with you, too?
I, of course, would love to fly again. But our aim is to enable many, many people to fly. And it’s not just my own opinion about the cabin and the procedures that matters. It’s other people’s opinions as well. So we will continue in our flight program to put folks in the cabin to evaluate the cabin. I don’t actually know what the plans are, if I myself might be one or not.
Congratulations to our Chief Astronaut Instructor, Beth Moses / @VGChiefTrainer. Today, you became the 571st human to travel into space. pic.twitter.com/0Zn7iTfOe9
I want as many people as possible to see and feel what I saw and felt, because it’s really magic.
What does this flight mean for you personally? You’re now the first woman to fly into space on a commercial vehicle. How does that feel having that title?
I’m really proud to be part of this industry. I’ve been an aerospace engineer for my whole career, and it feels good to do a job that’s important to me as well. And I’m of the opinion that anyone of any profession or any professional background can be part of the aerospace industry. So I welcome everyone. I think there’s a place for everyone.
I don’t hold myself as terribly special. I mean, people have asked me that question before, and it’s an awkward one, because I’m simply doing my job to the best of my ability. I consider myself to be an engineer doing a job. I don’t think engineers come in pink or blue. I think we’re just engineers. I think we just problem solve.
How do you feel about, say, a young girl who watched your flight and would want to do what you do? Do you feel like that maybe has some impact on little girls with big dreams?
Oh, absolutely. I hope that our flight and my participation in the flight encourages anyone that wants to be part of the industry. Because this industry is very welcoming to all, and so I would hope everyone would see the flight and and want to participate if they’re so inclined.
Edge of Space in MiG 29 Fighter Jet
A Supersonic Flight To The “Edge Of Space” (Includes Top Gun Aerobatics)
The Grand Vacationist in association with Sokol Airbase in Russia has created an awesome expereince for adrenaline junkies and aviation aficionados: So far, the prerogative has been the fighter pilots’ and the astronaut’s…to see earth from a supersonic distance. Now anyone with a passion for extreme adventure can see the Earth’s Curvature from the Edge of Space and experience “The Overview Effect – the view of the Earth in the blackness of the Universe”. This program offers you the exclusive opportunity to join an elite Supersonic Club of civilian fliers who have experienced the thrills of supersonic flight in an advanced Russian MiG-29UB Fighter Jet. This program is available in Russia only, and exclusively through our company in India. MiG-29UB civilian flights in Russia have been operated for more than 7 years, and “Sokol Airbase” has arranged more than 220 flights in the MiG-29UB and MiG-31 Russian Jet Fighters for all aviation junkies. This is how it works.
The pilot will start heading for the Stratosphere (up to 19 kms ABSL) at Supersonic speed of up to Mach 2.25. When you reach the highly distinctive boundary between the blue sky and black outer space, you will be ecstatic, exhilarated, and the flight will become an experience of a life-time…and just when you think this is surreal, the pilot will climb down to 9 kms ABSL and as you are pounded by the G-forces, the pilot performs Top Gun style aerobatic maneuvers. Whew! Goosebumps!
If having an experience of a lifetime and unlimited bragging rights isn’t enough, here are some more reasons you should go for this flight.
Edge of Space
Reach the Stratosphere – an altitude of up to 65,000 ft.
A privilege only a few civilians have experienced!
Fly up to Mach 2.25 (about 2,400 kmph)
Top Gun Aerobatics
Rolls, Inverted Flight, Combat Turns, Loops, Tail Slide, Split S, Vertical Dive, Low Pass, Hummer Head, Curves.
Experience up to +5.5G and know what it takes to be a combat pilot
The pilot may allow you to control this awesome fighter for a few moments!
Professional HD Photos and Video of the entire experience
Transfer by Helicopter between Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod
From Russia with Love
Travel Bond style to explore Russia’s heritage spas, nightlife, luxury shopping, etc. with The Grand Vacationist.
First Hand Experience
Flight Parameters Achieved
- Flight Time
- Weather Conditions
Cloudy, Snowy (the kind that makes trained pilots uncomfortable!)
- Top Speed
Mach 1.7 (2,080 kmph)
- Highest Altitude
17.3km ABSL (57,000ft)
- Maximum G Load
- G-Load Range
+4 to +7G
Loops, Rolls, Turns, Low Pass, Knife.
- Compliments of the Pilot
I Had Control of The Flight for a minute!
Since it was a double numbered birthday coming up – it had to be double the adrenaline rush, double the altitude, double the speed… and of course three times the fun!! — Until Virgin Galactic becomes affordable, a Suborbital Flight in a MiG-29UB Fighter Jet to the Edge of Space touching the Stratosphere at Supersonic speeds followed by Top Gun style Aerobatics was just what I needed!
I did it!! I did it!! I did it!! Ecstatic, exhilarated and overwhelmed. There are no words in the dictionary that can do justice to what I felt as I stepped off the aircraft after the flight. What a sense of achievement too! Like I had conquered the world and was riding the crest of supremacy! And of course along with that a deep level of appreciation for our Top Guns in the Air Force and the Test Pilots. My test pilot Yuri Polyakov was great at the controls of the MiG-29UB, even allowing me to fly this amazing machine for a minute to do a pitch and roll making! What an experience! The G-force on an inverted flight felt pulverizing too!
– Mit Bhatt, a partner of The Great Vacationists, has first-hand experienced the thrills of flying in a MIG Fighter Plane. This is his story:
Get in Touch
Over the Phone
MIG-29 FLIGHT PROGRAM
“EDGE OF SPACE” AND AEROBATIC EXPERIENCE IN THE MIG-29
What are the features of this program?
MiG-29 Flight to Stratosphere and Aerobatics Experience after the reduction is a comprehensive program consisting of two subprograms, which are mixed together. The total duration of this flight program is 40 – 45 minutes.
The duration of the first part of the program is nearly 20 minutes. You will take off from the runway and slowly, without any overloading reach an altitude of 10 km. Then the pilot will accelerate the aircraft to Supersonic Speed (2100 km/h) and you will reach the altitude of 18-19 km above Earth.
After reaching the top altitude you will see one of the most exciting views that is available to humanity! Absolutely dark space and the bright sun… It is impossible to explain what you will see, you just have to feel it. Also you will see a huge round part of Earth, that will show you the real size of our planet. You will remember for all your life these seconds in the Stratosphere! No more than even a thousand people ever reached this altitude …Let me remind you, that the conventional passenger aircraft is usually flying on a height of 9 – 10 km. And our MiG 29 flight to the stratosphere will allow you to rise two times higher than that and see the Earth like no one did!
The second part of the program will start from the descent out of the Stratosphere. After decreasing to a low altitude, the pilot will perform Aerobatic Maneuvers. Usually, they will run from simple to advanced, from small overloads to more serious, of course, after that part is discussed with You. Inside the Jet Fighter cockpit you will have a constant communication link with your pilot, who will always be in course of your current health and your tolerance towards all the Aerobatics. Duration of the second part will be nearly 20-25 minutes which includes decrease and Aerobatic Experience.
Exactly because of that “Edge of Space” and Aerobatic Experience, this flight program became complex and the most popular among our clients. Actually, the climb to the Stratosphere (18-19 km) does not require any special physical preparation for the overloads. We call this program “Maximum emotions with the minimum discomfort”. Therefore, this program is more often bought as a gift for loved ones, business partners, for any celebration days or purchased just for yourself to have a once in a lifetime MiG-29 flight experience.
One interesting fact is that most of our clients, who are interested in “Edge of Space” and Aerobatic Experience, are 73-75 years old. We had a huge amount of such clients. Women especially give this flight program the most attention. Approximately, 25-30% of all people who had a MiG 29 flight program “Edge of Space” and Aerobatic Experience are women. Moreover, most of the clients had never before sat at a Jet Fighter and, of course, didn’t have any trainings before the MiG29 flight.
We invite you to take a part in the Unique MiG-29 flight program “Edge of Space” and Aerobatic Maneuvers with our company!
Edge of space flight
Five Things One Learns Traveling to Russia to Fly a Fighter Jet to the “Edge of Space”
Somewhere around 2008, I learned that it was possible to fly a MiG fighter jet to the edge of space.
Having saved up cash from my depressing job for some time and without any particular direction otherwise, I decided to pull the trigger. I mean, who can pass up the opportunity to tell their future child, “I know you want to go to college, honey, but Daddy wanted to go to SPACE!”
The journey involved various cities in Russia in what must have been the “Golden Few Years Before Russia and the USA Hated Each Other Again”. With Russia now in the news daily, I thought it might be a good time to reflect on what I learned. Not from headlines, but from walking through it. Usually sober, but not always.
1. Culture shock can be almost immediate
After Rocky IV, I figured all outstanding cultural differences with Russia had been resolved amicably and that as an American, I’d be welcomed with open arms.
Thus, I was more than a bit surprised when I arrived at my nice hotel right near Red Square to find a fully-armed…army in the parking lot. Automatic rifles and everything. The good news? They weren’t there for me. The bad news (unless you’re a bigot)? They were gathering there before goin’ on an ol’ gay bashing tour around Moscow. Apparently Moscow’s mayor believed gays were satanic, and the army was on board.
That awfulness aside, I found Moscow to be a beautiful, amazing, and unique city. But even as someone who has taken a fair amount of trips abroad, I was (somewhat pleasantly) surprised by by how little they hold your hand.
For example, I found out that in one of Moscow’s subway lines, each station is thoroughly decorated in a different artistic style. One station might be decorated all white marble and Greek statues, whereas the next might be styled like a French palace with gold-framed original paintings. This, I had to see. This, however, I apparently had to see on my last day in Moscow, after imbibing several beers with the drunk oil businessmen at the hotel bar.
Long story short, I got lost in the subway, and ended up somewhere in the outer suburbs of Moscow. I figured it’d be easy enough to find my way back, but NOBODY spoke English. There were no signs, and there wasn’t really anyone there to help or assist other than security, who didn’t speak English. There just wasn’t a lot of structure there to help you out, which I totally understand. And again, totally all my fault. I ended up playing a two-hour long game of high-stakes Charades to get a taxi back to my hotel, which luckily was near major landmarks. I pointed at my map like Koko the gorilla.
Other fun facts: You will also definitely see old Communists around Moscow who yearn for the good ol’ days of the Cold War and bread lines.
Also, it seems to be totally fine to grab some booze from a kiosk any time of day and walk around drunk in public — even, no, especially if you’re a pre-teen!
2. Luxury and Not-Luxury Live Side By Side
The hotel was absolutely stunning in an old-fancy kind of way. For example, the entire ceiling of the eating area was beautiful stained glass.
That said, it became readily apparent that Moscow was a financial and cultural Vitamix — with every opulence, there was another slightly seedier counterpart. For example, while the hotel was beautiful, it also reeked of cigarettes. That didn’t really bother me though, nor did it bother the pretty ladies who sat on the couch near the hotel bar in short skirts, re-applying makeup for hours on end…until suddenly disappearing for an hour or so and coming back. I bet they just had to rush off to catch the latest episode of “Lost”!
Similarly, I was picked up from the airport with someone holding a sign for me, which made me feel like a movie star. On the other hand, the person with the sign led me to a rusty old van for the ride to the city, which made me feel a bit more like that movie star was Pauly Shore.
In all honesty, none of this bothered me, as I’m a simple guy. I didn’t “splurge” on a bed frame for 15 years and still eat Hot Pockets. But the duality was everywhere. The location for the pre-flight briefing and medical check for a five-figure flight to space? A very official-looking…mobile home trailer. The view from the train out of the city later in the week chugged past skyscrapers and symphony halls to miles of sheet-metal shanty towns alongside the tracks.
3. Fighter Jets Are More Fun When Not Fighting Fights
The main course of this travel buffet was the “Edge of Space” flight, which was every bit as incredible as it sounds.
After meeting my grizzled Russian pilot, we took off and began our journey to the “Edge of Space”, which for my flight was around 80,000 feet — enough to see the blackness of space, the blue ring of atmosphere, and the curvature of the Earth. Now, some people will point out that technically the “edge of space” is actually more like 60 miles above Earth’s surface, but those people are assholes. Or Astronauts. Or some combination of the two (Asstronauts?).
That alone would have been enough, but the edge of space was followed by about 45 minutes of intense aerobatic maneuvers, a.k.a. “high-speed dicking around” . We looped, we dove, we flipped, my eyes grayed out from the G forces — my favorite move was what is called a Hammerhead, where the pilot flew straight up vertically, stalled the engine until the plane tipped over itself backwards, and then fell directly down before gunning the engine.
Sometime during this, the pilot radioed back to me, “Now you take controls.” “Awesome!”, I thought, and immediately yanked the stick so we were flying on our side. The pilot radioed back, “No! No! Horizontal flight!” and immediately righted the plane. Oh well. What did he expect? We had clearly established that sane, level flying was stupid and lame.
The final aerobatic move I had some knowledge of, as someone mentioned this pilot likes to do a “close pass”, which is code for buzzing the tower at about 20 feet from the ground.
If you’re curious for more, here’s the edited video of the flight, set to crappy Russian techno music:
4. “Please Appreciate These Weapons Designed to Kill You”
The flight itself took place in a city called Nizhny Novgorod which, for a long period of the Soviet Era, was completely closed to foreigners (especially Americans). Similarly, the airbase out of which you fly is the Sokol plant, which produced many of the MiGs during the Cold War. In that context, it’s relatively strange walking around military weaponry and secrets which to some extent, were designed to hurt you.
Nevertheless, everybody was kind and patient, especially after we took part in the fine Russian tradition of vodka at a roadside bar. There didn’t seem to be much animosity, even among the military and military-associated I was walking around with. Which makes sense, because I’m sure the Cold War kind of sucked for them, too.
The vodka was followed by more booze, which was followed by a tour in which I was (unfairly I believe) asked to recall points of Russian history after the post-flight vodka binge.
All of that was followed by me taking a nap and almost missing my flight out of the city.
5. It Changes Your Perspective
I want to begin here with an apology, as “it changes your perspective” is the most overused and cliche´ summation of every travel experience ever undertaken by humans on Earth. But it kind of fits here. And I’ll keep it short.
There’s the obvious “change in perspective” in being able to see the edge of space and the earth below — you see how massive yet alone it is, you see how beautiful the landscapes are, you learn you can paint with all the colors of the wind, all that nice stuff.
It’s also nice to confirm in person that most people around the world are generally normal, polite and friendly, despite literally decades of propaganda attempting to convince you otherwise.
And finally, doing the trip in the first place changed my perspective on time and money. I’m not going to say YOLO, because YOLO is stupid and I’m old. But sometimes, it is worth taking the risk to spend too much on something that sounds fun or outrageous to you. You’ll never know where it might lead.
Virgin Galactic completes crewed space test, more flights soon
MOJAVE, Calif. (Reuters) – A Virgin Galactic rocket plane reached space on Thursday and returned safely to the California desert, capping years of testing to become the first U.S. commercial human flight to breach Earth’s atmosphere since America’s shuttle program ended in 2011.
The successful test flight presages a new era of civilian space travel that could kick off as soon as next year, with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic battling billionaire-backed ventures such as Amazon.com Inc founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, to be the first to offer suborbital flights to fare-paying tourists.
Branson, who said he personally put up $1 billion toward the roughly $1.3 billion development costs for Virgin’s space businesses, told Reuters he viewed competition with Bezos and others as a race, though passenger safety was the top priority.
“Today we get to enjoy the fact that we have put people into space before anybody else,” Branson said.
Virgin’s twin-fuselage carrier airplane holding the SpaceShipTwo passenger spacecraft took off at 7:11 a.m. local time (1511 GMT) from the Mojave Air and Space Port, about 90 miles (145 km) north of Los Angeles.
British billionaire Branson, wearing jeans and a leather bomber jacket with a fur collar, attended the take-off along with hundreds of spectators on a crisp morning in the California desert.
After the rocket plane, also called the VSS Unity, reached an apogee of 51.4 miles (83 km) above Earth, a crying Branson hugged his son and high-fived and hugged other spectators. The plane reentered the atmosphere at 2.5 times the speed of sound and landed a few minutes later to cheers and applause, concluding roughly an hour’s journey.
One of the pilots handed Branson a small Earth stress ball when the two hugged.
Thursday’s test flight – the fourth mission during which VSS Unity flew under its own power – had pilots Mark Stucky and Frederick Sturckow onboard, four NASA research payloads, and a mannequin named Annie as a stand-in passenger.
The next flight test is within the next couple of months, depending on data analysis from Thursday’s flight, Virgin Galactic said. Branson has said Virgin’s first commercial space trip with him onboard would happen “in months and not years.”
51.4 MILES ABOVE EARTH
The carrier airplane hauled the SpaceShipTwo passenger rocket plane to an altitude of about 45,000 feet (13.7 kms) and released it. Seconds later, SpaceShipTwo fired, catapulting it to more than 51 miles above Earth, high enough for the pilots to experience weightlessness and see the curvature of the planet.
The ship’s rocket igniting and vertical ascent through a cloudless sky could be seen from the ground.
Virgin’s latest flight test comes four years after the original SpaceShipTwo crashed during a test flight that killed the co-pilot and seriously injured the pilot, dealing a major setback to Virgin Galactic, a U.S. offshoot of the London-based Virgin Group.
“It’s been 14 long years to get here,” Branson told reporters after the landmark flight. “We’ve had tears, real tears, and we’ve had moments of joy. So the tears today were tears of joy.”
Nearly 700 people have paid or put down deposits to fly aboard Virgin’s suborbital missions, including actor Leonardo DiCaprio and pop star Justin Bieber. A 90-minute flight costs $250,000. Virgin Galactic has received about $80 million in deposits from future astronauts, Branson said.
Short sightseeing trips to space aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket are likely to cost around $200,000 to $300,000, at least to start, Reuters reported in July. Tickets will be offered ahead of the first commercial launch, and test flights with Blue Origin employees are expected to begin in 2019.
Branson added that he “would be delighted to offer Bezos a flight on Virgin” and for Bezos “to maybe offer me a flight” on New Shepard.
Bezos’ New Shepard has already flown to the internationally recognized boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space known as the Karman line at 62 miles (100 km) – though the Blue Origin trip did not carry humans.
Virgin’s Thursday launch did not go as high as the Karman line. Its pilots were aiming to soar 50 miles into the sky, which is the U.S. military and NASA’s definition of the edge of space and high enough to earn commercial astronaut wings by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
Other firms planning a variety of passenger spacecraft include Boeing Co, Elon Musk’s SpaceX and late Microsoft Corp co-founder Paul Allen’s Stratolaunch.
In September, SpaceX said Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, founder and chief executive of online fashion retailer Zozo, would be the company’s first passenger on a voyage around the moon on its forthcoming Big Falcon Rocket spaceship, tentatively scheduled for 2023.
Musk, the billionaire CEO of electric carmaker Tesla Inc, said the Big Falcon Rocket could conduct its first orbital flights in two to three years as part of his grand plan to shuttle passengers to the moon and eventually fly humans and cargo to Mars.
Looking to the future after the successful flight, Branson talked about the possibility of using his space plane to link international cities, offering orbital space flights, or potentially even building a Virgin hotel in space.
“One thing leads onto another. I forever dream,” he told Reuters. “Actually, I said to my son today, we were sitting in the cockpit (before the flight), and I said sometimes I think life is just one incredible dream.”
Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Mojave, California; Additional reporting by Irene Klotz in Cape Canaveral, Florida; Writing by Nick Zieminski; Editing by Leslie Adler
MiG-29 Edge of Space
MiG-29: Your last chance for Edge of Space and Supersonic Flights in Russia
Unleash your inner Maverick! The MiG-29 Flight is the only fighter aircraft available for Supersonic Flights and Edge of Space Flights. The MiG-29 Fulcrum is also a modern fighter aircraft, belonging to the 4th generation. Given the fact that even European Air Forces still use the much older MiG-21 Fishbed, it is very surprising that tourists can fly in such modern aircraft to an altitude of up to 22km (13.7 miles or more than 72,000 fts). 17km is guaranteed, the altitude reached depends on the weather and the air temperature.
The MiG-29 Fulcrum is a Mach 2+ interceptor and a state of the art multirole fighter jet.
What are the requirements to book a flight in the MiG-29 Fulcrum?
What will I get if I book an Edge of Space Flight?
You’ll get a thrilling approx. 45-50 minutes jet ride including:
- A walk around the MiG-29 jet including detailed explanations
- Cruising at double Supersonic Speed (Mach 2)
- Manoeuvres such as rolls, steep diving and climbing and more, depending on what your worked out plan together with the pilot
- A fantastic view onto the earth from above
- You will see the curvature of the earth
- Possibility to control the jet
- A handshake with one of Russia’s top guns who holds licenses of various combat aircraft!
- In short: Your adventure of a lifetime
Included in the price:
- Free transfer from your hotel in Nizhniy Novgorod to the airfield and back
- Accompany service by our translator
- Access permission to the military airfield
- A medical check-up before the flight to make sure your daily condition won’t put you at risk during your adventure
- Introduction meeting with your pilot, flight briefing
- A flight certificate including the specs of your Edge of Space flight
- All fees, taxes etc.
Also available for an additional fee:
What does it cost to fly to the Edge of Space?
Currently, a 45-50 minutes MiG-29 flight costs EUR 17,500.00, including all paperwork and translation plus transfer services. However, prices change often and we promise you to offer the lowest possible price.
The Edge of Space flight is one of the most expensive fighter jet flight experience we offer. In case you prefer aerobatics you should think about our normal MiG-29 Flight with focus on aerobatics. It is substantially cheaper, starting at EUR 12,500.00. Please contact us for the latest pricing information.
The only Supersonic Jet for Passenger Flights Worldwide
The Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrum is an extremely powerful figher aircraft. It climbs at a rate of 330m/s and has a thrust/weight ratio >1 – which means it can accelerate when climbing vertically. Just like a rocket. The MiG-29 is the only supersonic fighter jet available for flights with Civilians, worldwide. In other words, your one and only chance to break the sound barrier. On top of that – you have a higher back seat to ensure you have a great view over the pilot – and the Fulcrum is also a very nice and sporty looking plane with excellent manoeuvrability. In short – the perfect fighter jet to fly in. It is very well maintained and flown by test pilots.
The MiG-29 is a modern 4th generation multirole fighter used by many Air Forces, also in the NATO.
Is there something more?
The MiG-29 flight can’t be booked on short notice – we’ll need at least 60 business days to get airbase access in Russia. Russia has a lot to offer, especially for aviation freaks. We recommend to stay in Moscow for two or three days and visit the famous Monino museum and Star City. Whatever you prefer, just let us know and we will make your Fighter Flight Adventure in Russia even better. We have a Russia specialist taking care of all your needs and travel arrangements.
Want to come as close to Space as possible? Contact us to inquire about or book a MiG-29 Edge of Space Flight
The Edge of Space
Space will soon be open for business. So says Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline.
Having sent astronauts to the edge of space twice, Virgin Galactic is preparing to launch flights to the public later this year and will change the way we see the world forever.
“Space is Virgin territory,” Sir Richard Branson told the pilots of SpaceShipTwo, VSS Unity, after they landed safely in California’s Mojave Desert on 13 December 2018 having reached space for the first time. Virgin Galactic’s sub-orbital spaceplane had reached an altitude of 51.4 miles (82.7km) — just beyond the 50-mile (80km) boundary that Nasa and the US Air Force consider the gateway to space — travelling at 2.9 times the speed of sound.
History had been made, the sceptics were silenced and Branson’s space travel company was one giant leap closer to opening space up to commercial passengers. It also put Virgin Galactic ahead of its rival Blue Origin, owned by Amazon’s co-founder Jeff Bezos, whose ground-launched New Shepard rocket also aims to provide sub-orbital passenger trips.
“After 14 years of trials and tribulations trying to get to space, we’re finally there and this really will open a whole new era of space travel,” Sir Richard told CNN after the maiden space flight. “Many of you will know how important the dream of space travel is to me personally. Ever since I watched the moon landings as a child I have looked up to the skies with wonder”, Branson said from the flight line. “We started Virgin nearly 50 years ago dreaming big and loving a challenge.”
“Today, as I stood among a truly remarkable group of people with our eyes on the stars, we saw our biggest dream and our toughest challenge to date fulfilled. It was an indescribable feeling: joy, relief, exhilaration and anticipation for what is yet to come.”
Just 10 weeks after the maiden space flight, VSS Unity reached space for a second time on 22 February, 2019 in its fifth supersonic rocket powered test flight, achieving even greater speed and altitude. This time, it carried a passenger on board – Beth Moses, Virgin Galactic’s Chief Astronaut Instructor, who was there to check the cabin design in readiness for commercial passengers. This made VSS Unity the world’s first commercial space-liner to carry passengers into space.
Chief Pilot Dave Mackay and co-pilot Michael “Sooch” Masucci became commercial astronauts and the 569th and 570th humans in space, while Moses became the 571st and the first woman to fly on board a commercial spaceship. The crew marvelled at the extraordinary views of Earth from the black skies of space and, during several minutes of weightlessness while the pilots “feathered” the spaceship in preparation for a Mach 2.7 re-entry, Moses floated free to complete a number of cabin evaluation test points.
Having long dreamed of taking his business into space, Branson found the vehicle in which to do it when Burt Rutan’s SpaceShipOne made history on 21 June, 2004, by becoming the first privately created manned vehicle to reach space, after flying to an altitude of 62.5 miles (100 km). The spacecraft then won the Ansari X Prize by repeating the feat on 29 September and 4 October of that year, with Mike Melvill piloting the first of these two flights and Brian Binnie at the controls for the second.
It was as a result of Binnie’s test-flight that Branson created Virgin Galactic and placed a $100 million order for five bigger spacecraft – the SpaceShipTwo model – each capable of carrying two pilots and six passengers. Its mission is to take more passengers into space in its first few years than have been there through all of history. To date, over 600 men and women from over 50 countries have reserved places to fly on Virgin Galactic’s reusable space launch system, consisting of the specially designed mothership carrier aircraft WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo.
So, what can passengers expect? After three days of training at New Mexico’s Spaceport America, passengers will board SpaceShipTwo which will be carried to a height of more than 40,000ft by WhiteKnightTwo, before being released. Its pilots will ignite its rocket and steer it into a vertical climb towards space. From an official space altitude, passengers will become astronauts as they leave their seats to experience weightlessness for several minutes. They will be able to view the curvature of the Earth through the cabin’s large windows and see the glowing blue line of the atmosphere. The whole experience will be captured on film for each astronaut as a unique personal record of history in the making.
Virgin Galactic’s purpose isn’t just to provide space joyrides, however. The past two test flights have carried research payloads from the NASA Flight Opportunities program, providing valuable data needed to mature NASA technologies for use in deep space.
Virgin Galactic’s sister company, Virgin Orbit, will provide launch opportunities for new orbital technology via its small satellite launch service. Its launch vehicle will open up the space frontier to start-ups and schools to established space companies and national space agencies. By achieving these objectives, Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit say they will be playing their part in opening space to change the world for good.
Branson expects the flights to open to the public later this year and he and his family have committed to being on that inaugural flight. “My wish is to go up on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, that’s what we’re working on,” Branson told AFP at the sidelines of an event to honour Virgin Galactic at the Air and Space Museum in Washington in February.
The American Apollo 11 mission landed on the moon on 20 July, 1969. “By July we should have done enough testing,” he added, but stressed the importance of safety.
After February’s test flight, Virgin Galactic is fine-tuning SpaceShipTwo for an incredible customer experience. “Having Beth fly in the cabin today, starting to ensure that our customer journey is as flawless as the spaceship itself, brings a huge sense of anticipation and excitement to all of us here who are looking forward to experiencing space for ourselves,” said Branson after the test flight. “The next few months promise to be the most thrilling yet.”