The UK–not the US–is the headquarters of Virgin Galactic, which Richard Branson hopes will create an entirely new tourism market–in space. Are private companies taking over this task because there are secrets NASA doesn’t want us to know? (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show).

In the Guardian, Robin McKie quotes commercial director Stephen Attenborough as saying, "Things are going incredibly well. (On the office walls) are computer graphics images, but next year we hope to replace them with photographs of the real thing: our first commercial flights into outer space."
read more

Long-duration spaceflight may have a long-term negative impact on bone health. Exposure to weightlessness during spaceflight results in rapid bone loss. Researchers recently set out to determine the impact of long-duration space missions on long-term bone health by assessing the bone mineral density of astronauts. The researchers studied 28 US crew members (24 men and four women with a pre-flight age range of 36 to 53 years) whose missions in space ranged from 95 to 215 days. All 28 crew members had their bone density measured both before and soon after their spaceflight, while 24 had this measured again between six and 18 months following their return from space.read more

A franchise is a store or restaurant, like The Gap orKentucky Fried Chicken, that you can find in every town inthe U.S. and often abroad as well. Now space pioneer BurtRutan says travel agents that can book you on a space travelvacation will soon be just as common as fast-foodfranchises. He plans to build spacecraft with large cabins,where you can walk around, just like you can in a conventionalairplane (once the initial take-off is completed), withlarge windows through which passengers can get anastronaut-style view the receding Earth, the moon andperhaps even some nearby planets. Passengers will floataround the cabin during 4 or 5 minutes of weightlessness.
read more