Virgin Galactic calls itself the world’s first commercial space line. Their goal is to open the wonder and experience of space to anyone who wishes to do so. And to do that they want to develop safe, affordable and clean vehicles and systems. That allows anyone from any background and anywhere in the world to be able to experience space.

To make the whole experience comfortable they provide three days of training prior to flight on site at spaceport America. Things like how to make the best of your time there, floating in zero gravity, how to get comfortable with acceleration G forces, getting to know the pilot and crew, all are part of preparation and training.

 

The flight

 

The spaceship makes its initial climb to 50,000ft following a runway take-off attached to its carrier aircraft before release. A brief moment of quiet then the rocket engine ignites.

 

The spaceship accelerates to around 3000 mph or nearly 4 times the speed of sound in a vertical climb out of the blue atmosphere and into the blackness of space.

 

On shut-down, the spaceship coasts upwards to its 110kms apogee allowing several minutes of out-of-seat zero gravity for those inside the spacious cabin, while large windows afford spectacular views of the Earth from space.

 

Re-entry is controlled by a unique and safe aerodynamic wing-feathering design and is followed by a spectacular glide to a runway landing back at Spaceport America — a party and astronaut wings!

 

Sounds exciting!! But I’m not sure if I would like to take this flight. I guess, space travel is not on my list yet. But the interesting thing is that you don’t just have to read about it, if you wish to actually experience space, it is available.

Would you take a Space flight on Virgin Galactic? Leave a comment if you would.

Posted by unroadwarrior | 2 Comments

There is absolutely no technical reason for aircraft to not allow cell phone use in-flight. The only issue today is the lack of cell service at that altitude or above water, but that is a technical problem that has already been solved. Airlines like Emirates provide cell phone service on almost all their flights, with an on-board cell tower. It is tine for the airlines to get to the 21st century and make some money along the way.

We live today in a ever-more connected world. We have always-on internet on our phones and tablet devices. We want and need 24/7 access to cellular voice, text and data services. A multi-hour (14 hour flight to Tokyo anyone?) flight being cut-off from the world is unacceptable to most and is taken in with gritted teeth. For executives and businessmen, not just your teenage Facebook junkie suffering from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), loss of access is really not the best situation.

Airlines are working hard to add internet service to their flights. They see it as a source of revenue and a differentiator from airlines that do not offer WiFi. I believe they are making a big mistake. For one, they are mostly installing ground based internet service (the US based airlines, I mean) and not satellite based service. While this is cheaper, it only offers service when over the mainland US of A. Nothing over the oceans or other countries. Secondly, I think they ar just missing the mark my not going with cellular service. They can make more money charging for ‘roaming’ voice and data services and use the same cellular network to provide WiFi for customers just looking for internet access.

As airlines strive to make air travel more comfortable (US Airways not included) and add premium economy and high priced First Class Suites, cellular service is something that everyone knows and wants. I may not be willing t pay for turn-down service in First Class, but I will certainly pay to call or FaceTime my family from somewhere over Greenland.

It is time.

Do you agree with me? Leave a comment.

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Posted by unroadwarrior | 8 Comments

Kayak.jpg

I love Starbucks‘ partnership with Apple. Every week, there is something free from the Apple iTunes store at Starbucks. It started out with songs (song are still offered), but has grown to include Apps, Books and TV episodes. I have gotten tons of paid goodies for free from Starbucks. The way you get them is for looking for small cards displayed in each Starbucks. The card has a code on them that allows you to redeem it for a free App/song/book…

Now the good news – this weeks free App is Kayak Pro! This is a $0.99 app, so no biggie, but after spending $3.99 on a Latte, I’ll take $0.99 back. Also, it is a great app. Other than the ability to access Kayak’s search engine for flights, hotels and cars, it also includes TripIt like features that allow me to email my itineraries to it. The Pro version also includes free flight status updaters. I am still playing with the app, but looks good so far. So, stop bye a Starbucks, buy a Latte and pick up the app.

The other free offering of this week is also travel related – a free episode of Anthony Bourdain’s ‘No reservations’ (as seen on the Travel Channel). Enjoy…

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Posted by unroadwarrior | 4 Comments

As I had blogged last week, the Space Shuttle Discovery will be piggy-back flown in on a 747 to be placed in the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum outside Washington Dulles (IAD) airport on Tuesday, April 17th. The flight from Florida is expected to arrive at IAD mid-morning (ETA – between 10 and 11AM). The exact time and flight plan is being kept under covers due to security reasons. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the Space Shuttle mounted on the back of it’s 747 carrier. I definitely plan to be there to view and take pictures. This will also be by first attempt at live-blogging. So, visit my blog tomorrow morning to get real-time updates. I will post as often as I can.

I plan to be in my car with my Sony NEX3 camera. I recently acquired a 200mm zoom lens, so I promise good pictures. The reason I am in my car is that the exact approach direction of the shuttle is unknown. Which runway? Which direction on the runway? I plan to monitor different sites and be ready to get to the right location in time to take pictures. Wish me luck that I get a good view and pictures.

For those who want to remain put, the Udvar Hazy museum is hosting a shuttle viewing get together in their parking lot, which has a great view of the south end of all four runways at IAD. There is a $15 fee to park. They will be opening the McDonalds early too. If anyone of my readers is going to be there, do let me know. I would love to say Hi.UPDATE: Follow my Live Blog here.

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Posted by unroadwarrior | 15 Comments

Space Shuttle Discovery’s final resting place is going to be the Udvar Hazy Air and Space museum, just off Washington, DC’s Dulles airport (IAD). It is going to be a flown in to Washington riding piggy-back on a 747 on April 17th. It is expected to arrive early morning, as reported on WTOP. I happen to live in the flight path of one of the runways and between the flight paths of two others (IAD has four runways – three are parallel to each other and one diagonal). I am used to having low flying aircraft flying bye, but this is going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity. I plan to camp in my lawn all morning. The only problem is if the runway configuration is in the opposite direction, I will miss the show. I will have to keep my car ready to go in case the air traffic is in the opposite direction.

I plan to take lots of pictures of the 747 with the shuttle strapped on, with my recently acquired Sony NEX3, with its awesome 200mm zoom lens. Will post them as soon as I have them.

For those curious, the Air and Space museum already had a space shuttle (Picture attached to this post). That one was Space Shuttle Enterprise. That shuttle is being relocated to New York city.

If anyone in the DC area is planning to come watch the Space Shuttle be ‘shuttled’ in, let me know. Maybe we can have our own viewing party. As the article on WTOP mentions, several viewing sessions are being planned in the Air and Space Museum parking lot. Follow #SpotTheShuttle on twitter to find locations. I will post updates here and on @unroadwarrior on Twitter, as the date approaches.

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Posted by unroadwarrior | 10 Comments

Electronics as banned from being used on flights during take off and landing – much to the ire of celebrities and flight attendants. The exact requirement is no electronics below 10,000 feet. That may be changing soon. Time magazine reports that the FAA is seeking to look into allowing electronics use at all times in-flight. This will keep celebs from getting booted off and us all from being forced to un-plug at least till 10 minutes into the flight.

This does not address the ban on cell phone use. I believe that the ban on cell phone use will remain in place in the US for the foreseeable future, irrespective the lack of science behind the reasoning.

Share your thoughts. Is electronics use during take off and landing good or bad? Leave a comment below.

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Posted by unroadwarrior | 4 Comments

American Express just gets Twitter! They are running all kinds of deals via Twitter. The one most relevant to readers of this blog is 10% off (one time) main cabin tickets on Virgin America. Here is how you participate:

  1. Sync your twitter account and AmEx card. This can be done here.
  2. Follow @AmericanExpress on twitter
  3. Tweet #AmexVirginAmer to save 10% off Virgin America tickets!

You can RT the original text from AmEx or make your own tweet, like I have. The only requirement is that the #hashtag #AmexVirginAmer be included in the tweet. You will receive the 10% discount as a statement credit – you have to pay the original fare in full AND of course, pay using the AmEx card you have registered with Twitter. Here are the T&Cs of the deal.

AmEx has some other cool deals too from vendors like Whole Foods and McDonalds. I just got a $5 credit for spending $5+ on McD for tweeting #AmexMcDonalds! I recommend the American Express® Gold Card or The Business Gold Rewards Card(R) from American Express OPEN

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Posted by unroadwarrior | No Comments

Time magazine believes that the the #1 way to get a Flight attendant upset is to keep talking on your cell phone after they have announced that you need to turn it off. I can think of many other ways to get a FA pissed off. Another one of Time’s own articles proves that they are not right, more celebrities have been booted off planes for using profanities than for using electronic devices. Gadgets just get a bad rap. Or maybe Alec Baldwin is just a bigger celebrity than Leisha (who?) Hailey.

My personal thoughts on electronics and particularly cell phone on planes are in my earlier post on the topic – C’mon just one more text. (Full disclosure: I have since upgraded to an iPhone). I seriously believe that the FAA needs to ‘fess up and admit that there is no real danger of cell phones disrupting flight equipment. Cells phone work fine without issue on several airlines, such as Emirates, why not in the US. I am though still in favor of electronics being off during take off and landing. This is more to make sure that travelers are alert and paying attention, in case of trouble during these sequences.

What do you think? Do you agree that we should be allowed to use cell phones on flights? Leave a comment below. Maybe we can recruit one of these celebrities to support our cause. Betty White ever get booted off a plane?

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Posted by unroadwarrior | 10 Comments

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