A New Era Of Space Travel Is On The Horizon

Data from public opinion polls indicate that nearly fifty million people would like to visit space. In fact as many as two million people each year would take the journey beyond the outer limits of Earth's gravity. The public's fascination with space travel means the potential development of a space travel tourism industry with revenues that could amount to $10 billion or more every year.
Therefore, it really is not hard to understand the interest in commercial space travel by private business. In fact, more than six companies are working to making commercial space travel a reality. However, the company that is closest to becoming the industry pioneer is Virgin Galactic. The company is a well funded joint venture of Richard Branson, Burt Rutan, and Paul Allen.
Eager future space travelers should consider that the development of Virgin Galactic's Space Ship Two is nearly completed and could be performing test flights by the end of the year into space. The spacecrafts successful predecessor, Spaceship One, last reached space on October 4, 2004, winning the $10m Ansari X Prize. The larger and more powerful, Space Ship Two, is being built to accommodate two pilots and six passengers. Indeed, there will be enough room on board to experience the freedom of movement in the zero gravity of space. Initially, Virgin Galactic has ordered five spaceships to begin the business of commercial space travel and tourism.
The Spaceships will launch from the Virgin Galactic's spaceport which is currently under construction in the state of New Mexico. The spaceport will be the first commercial space launch and control facility in the United States. The $200m spaceport project is designed to cover 27 square miles. It will feature a mission control station, runways, and the Virgin Galactic headquarters. Much of the facility will be built underground.

Customers that want to experience commercial space travel have been lining up for tickets. 75 people have already paid the entire $200,000 fee. William Shatner, Sigourney Weaver, and Paris Hilton are reported to be among the early space tourists while hundreds of others have put down more than thirty million dollars in deposits to reserve their seat for a flight on Virgin's Spaceships. However, the initial experience of commercial space flight will be brief and it will not exactly represent a bargain ride. Passengers will spend just under 10 minutes in space at an altitude of only 65 miles, high enough to experience free fall and to see the curvature of the earth.
Of course, the creation of the new space travel tourism industry comes with government regulations. Already the United States Federal Aviation Administration has published its guidelines for commercial space travel, one hundred and twenty three pages of regulations that require disclosure and passenger training. Requirements include a disclosure on the number of trips the spacecraft has made into orbit and a history of its problems as well as a notice that the spacecraft has not been government certified. Also required is pre flight training for passengers in order to be properly prepared to handle emergencies such as a fire or loss of cabin pressure. Passengers will also be subject to the no-fly list currently operating in the US which is designed to stop terrorists boarding regular passenger flights.

It is expected that once people experience future commercial space travel, that they will want to make space their ultimate vacation destination. Therefore, the next innovative commercial space business venture may be the orbiting space hotel. Robert Bigelow, who made his fortune with hotel chain Budget Suites Of America, is already working on a prototype orbiting hotel. Bigelow has invested $75 million into the project, with a estimate of $425 million more a necessary commitment for the future.

His orbiting hotel venture is being developed under the corporate name of Bigelow Aerospace. The firm has successfully completed the first phase of the project by launching a small pod that inflates aloft called Genesis I. It is the first in a series of launches scheduled every six months for the next two and a half years. Genesis I has marked the beginning of what could be the first privately funded space station. The project is a prototype for cheap, livable, interconnecting rooms for commercial use in space similar in design to the International Space Station. In fact, Genesis I was an early concept for the ISS that was researched through funding by NASA. Robert Bigelow has since purchased the rights to the patent of the technology for his Genesis prototype.

Fun and Interesting Things To Do in Beijing

While visiting Beijing, the city of the famous American actor - Jet Li, you could take a traditional tour trip to visit traditional tourist spots or you could make use of the options given in this article and add a little spice to your trip and make it ultra interesting.

Beijing, the capital city of the Republic of China, is also known as Peking. The blend of history and modern development makes it one of the most popular tourist destinations and to make most of what it has to offer, the best time to visit Beijing is between September and November. If you are one of those people who likes to do things differently and enjoy thoroughly, here are some fun and interesting things to do in Beijing, the Bicycle City of the World.

Interesting and Fun Activities
Instead of jumping on the bandwagon of regular tours, you could visit the many interesting places in and around Beijing in unconventional ways. You can ask around for the tours listed below from your hotel reception or look out for them in local newspapers and travel magazines. As for the little ones accompanying you, there are manyattractions for kids.

  • Hiking the Great Wall of China
  • Motorcycle Trips
  • Biking and Walking Tours
  • Shijingshan Amusement Park (for kids)
  • Jingshan Park and Chaoyang Park (Famous for their seasonal activities)
Beijing Opera and Folk Music
One of the things you cannot afford to miss out is the Beijing Opera. It is an exciting mix of history, culture, acrobatics and martial arts. The opera actors make extensive use of heavy costumes, masks and folk music. They make a great appeal to people of all ages and are quite entertaining.
  • National Center for Performing Arts Opera House (No.2 West Chang'an Avenue, Xicheng District, Beijing)
  • Beijing Liyuan Theater (1F Qianmen Hotel, 175 Yongan Road, Hufangqiao, Xuan Wu District, Beijing)
  • Huguang Guild Hall (3 Hufang Road, Xicheng District)
  • Peking Opera Theater (No. 30, Haihuxili, Fengtai District)
  • Changan Grand Theater (No.7, Jianguomen Neidajie, Dongcheng District)
Art and Cultural Activities
The Chinese culture is full of vivid colors, larger than life imagery and plentiful symbolization, and Beijing is one place where you get to see all of them. There are manyfestivals and fairs that take place in Beijing. Unfortunately, they are celebrated only at certain times in a year, usually during the Chinese new year or spring time. But theart galleries are good places to visit the whole year round.
  • Lantern Festival (also known as Yuánxiāojié or Deng Jie, celebrated on the 15th day of the Chinese New Year)
  • Longtanhu Temple Fair (No.8 Longtanlu, Chongwen District)
  • Ditan Park Fair (Ditan Park, Andingmenwai, Dongcheng District)
  • 798 Art Zone or Qijiuba Gongchang (Chaoyang Qu, North of Dashanzi Huandao, Chaoyang district)
  • Wan Fung Art Gallery (No.136 Nan Chi Zi Street, Dong Cheng District)
There is no dearth of entertainment in Beijing for anyone. For those who are not satisfied with visiting only the tourist spots, there are many famous teahouses (no it's not a place to have just tea!) where you can witness live tea performances, deeply rooted in the history of Beijing. Some of the modern drama performances and puppet shows in Beijing can leave you spell-bound for a long time to come. Those who are ardent movie buffs can find their entertainment in Chinese movies. Then there are entire 'areas' dedicated to clubs, pubs and bars for those who want to experience the modern nightlife of Beijing.
  • Beijing Tea Houses: Lao She Teahouse (3F, building 3, Xi Da Jie, Qianmen, Beijing); Santaosha Teahouse (No. Jia 1, Waiguan Xiejie, Chaoyang District)
  • Theater in Beijing: Beijing People's Art Theater (22, Wangfujing Da Jie)
  • Puppet Shows: China Puppet Theater (A1 Anhua Xili, Chaoyang)
  • Chinese Movies: Megabox (G1, Sanlitun Village, Sanlitun); Stellar International Cinema Address (5/F, Jinyuan Shopping Center, 1 Yuandalu, Haidian District, Beijing)
  • Nightlife: Tianqiao Area, Sanlitun Bar Street and Embassy Area (Famous for rock-and-roll, hip-hop, jazz and other such activities)
Famous Beijing Cuisine
The culture of any place is always reflected in the taste of its cuisine. Like its culture, Beijing cuisine is steeped in its history. So there is a variety of cuisine to be tried in Beijing - calorie rich cuisine, cuisine based on herbal medicine, street food and western cuisine with a Beijing twist. In short, it is a culinary feast for food lovers!
  • Beijing Roast Duck
  • Shandong cuisine (Quick-fired mutton is the most common dish)
  • Huai'an -Yangzhou Cuisine (Mr. Pan's Fish)
  • Wolong Cuisine (Famous for chinese herbal tea, chicken in parmesan, sichuan pepper and roasted lamb)
  • Beijing Snacks (Especially on Donghuamen Night Snack Street and Wangfujing Snack Street)
Acrobatic Stunt Shows
Chinese acrobatic shows are an amazing visual treat and the fact that there is an acrobatic show almost every evening is like an icing on a cake. These shows have unbelievable stunts, performed without the usual safety nets. At a point where you think there is going to be an accident, you are surprised with a spectacular stunt.
  • Traditional Chinese Acrobatics Show (Chaoyang Theater)
  • The Legend of Kung Fu (Red Theater)
  • China National Acrobatic Troupe Performance (Tiandi Theater)
  • Star Dream Acrobatic Show (Dongtu Theater)
  • Legend of Jinsha (Beijing Workers Club)
Spas and Bath Houses
Traditional Chinese Massages, especially the tui na massage, is a great way to de-stress. The tui na massages are known to relieve backache, joint pain and muscular tension. Some of the spas offer Chinese massage therapies along with other modern therapies. Apart from these, you could have your manicure and pedicure done intraditional Chinese nail art. Another great way to relax and refresh in Beijing is by making use of the famous Beijing bath houses.
  • Bodhi Therapeutic Retreat (17 Gongti Beilu, Chaoyang District)
  • Jingchen Retreat Spa (B2\F, China World Hotel, 1 Jianguomen Waidajie)
  • Spa No. 8 Hot Springs Club (8 Chaoyang Gongyuan Xi Lu, Chaoyang District)
  • Langtaosha Bath House (6 Xueyuan Lu, Haidian)
  • Frost: Coffee, Nails and Cocktails (55 Xingfucun Zhong Lu, Sanlitun)
Beijing is famous for its shopping centers that range from large commercial centers to local fleas markets and antique markets. Just make sure you know what you want and have adequate bargaining skills. Though you will have to be on your guard against low quality material almost everywhere, you are sure to find treasures to take back home.
  • Wangfujing Dajie (From East Chang'an Avenue to China Art Gallery)
  • Xiushui Silk Street Market (On the East Xiushui Street, near the U.S. Embassy)
  • Liulichang Culture Street (On the South of the Peace Gate, Xuanwu District; famous for Chinese artifacts)
  • Dashilan Street (A 580 year old commercial street near the Qianmen Gate)
  • Hongqiao Market (Opposite the Tiantan Park, Tiantan Donglu, Chongwen District)
Beijing offers many sports to choose from and many more sport centers. Dongdan Sports Center, Ritan Park, Yuyuantan Park and Julong Garden Fitness Club are some of the frequented sports centers in Beijing.
  • Martial Arts
  • Ice Skating
  • Sailing
  • Target Shooting
  • Golf Courses
This is just a small list of the most interesting things to do in Beijing from the many options that are available for tourists. Plan out your trip and the things you wish to do well in advance. While this is a good thing to do for any tour trip, it becomes all the more necessary for a place like Beijing which is constantly flooded with people. Making ticket arrangements and reservations before you actually go there, is a must if you do not want to be left out. In any case, a visit to Beijing is bound to be memorable and interesting in the least.

How to Plan a Road Trip with Children

Road trips
Road trips are a fun way to show your kids the country, but it can be a hassle having them in the car for that long. Try some of these tips to keep your children happy.

The winter is almost over, and spring break is upon us. If you’re thinking about taking your family for a fun vacation this spring or summer, consider a road trip. Road trips are great for children because they’ll see more of our great country than they would in a plane. It’s also fun to stop at different landmarks on the way, not only to see the great stuff our country has to offer, but also to stretch your legs and stop and smell the roses. Family time is irreplaceable, so take your time getting to where you’re going. However, with any long trip, there is a chance that kids might get restless. If you travel prepared, though, you’ll have a happy trip.

Road Games

There is a huge variety of games, kids can play while on the road. From trying to find license plates from each state, to singing road trip songs, these classic games can be played with little to no money. If you visit your local bookstore, you can find a section of books that have all of these games in them already. However, if you don’t want to spend the money on these books, you can create them yourself. Find pictures of license plates from different states and collect them together for your kids to see, before they hit the road. You can also grab a CD from your local library that has all the sing-along songs on it for you to enjoy.


For the bookworm in your family, head to your library or bookstore and stock up on books they have always wanted to read. If your kids can read without getting car sick, it’s a great time to practice reading skills and catch up on books they’re excited about. Make sure these are books for fun; let them pick out whatever they want. It is vacation, after all!


If you’re OK letting your kids use technology on family vacations, let them bring along portable DVD players or game centers. This can keep them occupied and not fighting for hours. However, put a time limit on any technology they use. Nothing is more annoying than trying to talk to your kids, while they are busy texting on their phones or playing games. Maybe allow them to use the technology between certain stops, but no more. Also, be sure you have a rule that, during meals, they cannot use their devices. Family vacation time is time for the family to spend together, not on their separate devices.


Food is the best way to keep kids happy. Children often get hungry before adults do, so keeping several options for snacks on hand can help, keep your kids calm and full. This can also help you save money while on the road by making it, so you don’t have to stop at rest stops or restaurants, where you’re sure to spend a lot of money.

Sleepy Time

Vacations are time to rest up, so let your kids sleep during the car ride if they are able. Bring along pillows and blankets and even some favorite stuffed animals and calming music and let them cuddle up in the back seat - as long as they are still wearing their seat belts, of course! This will not only keep them quiet, but also prevent them from getting crabby due to exhaustion.