News Mash-up: Space Travel

Category: Technology/Innovations


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. soar / soʊr / (v.) – to quickly fly or rise to a great height

    I love watching the eagles soar by the river.

  2. crewed / krud / (adj.) – carrying or done by people

    We thought the boat was crewed, but there was no one on it.

  3. accessible / ækˈsɛs ə bəl / (adj.) – capable of being reached

    I believe that college should be accessible to everyone, not just people who can pay for it.

  4. overhead / ˈoʊ vərˌhɛd / (n.) – business expenses that aren’t connected to a specific project, task, etc. and are paid for by a centralized fund

    My company tried to lessen its overhead by moving to a cheaper office.

  5. handraiser / ˈhænd reɪ zər / (n.) – a person who identifies himself/herself as a possible future customer and gives his/her contact information to a company

    The company claims it’s been contacted about its new product line by more than 1,000 handraisers.


Read the text below.

Billionaire Branson soars to space in own rocket

British billionaire Richard Branson on July 11 soared more than 50 miles (86 km) above the New Mexico desert aboard his Virgin Galactic rocket plane and safely returned in its first fully crewed test flight to space, a symbolic milestone for a venture he started 17 years ago.

“We’re here to make space more accessible to all,” Branson, 70, said following the flight. His company is poised to begin commercial operations next year.

Billionaire Jeff Bezos, who had hoped to fly to space first in his company’s rocket, congratulated Branson on Instagram, saying “Can’t wait to join the club!” (Reuters)

Virgin’s tickets to space start at $450,000

The ticket window is open again for space flights at Virgin Galactic, with prices starting at $450,000 (¥49 million) a seat.

The space tourism company said Aug. 5 it is making progress toward beginning revenue flights next year. It will sell single seats, package deals and entire flights.

Virgin Galactic announced the offerings as it reported Aug. 5 that it lost $94 million (¥10 billion) in the second quarter on soaring costs for overhead and sales.

Virgin Galactic said “early handraisers” will get first priority to book seats, and another list will be created for new customers. The company’s next spaceflight is scheduled for late September in New Mexico. (AP)

These articles were provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Branson spent 17 years investing and funding space research. Do you think it’s reasonable for billionaires to spend their money on projects like these? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Branson said that his company wants to make space more accessible to all. Do you think space travel will ever be accessible to all people, no matter who they are or where they come from? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • It’s still not unusual for rockets to explode upon launch or landing. Do you feel space travel is now safe enough, or do you think the technology needs to be improved a lot more before it’s safe to leave the Earth? Why? Discuss.
  • Both Branson’s and Bezos’ recent flights to space lasted only minutes. Do you think that’s worth the $450,000 price tag, or should they make the trips longer (ex. 30 minutes, to the moon and back)? Why? Discuss.