space travel

Virgin Galactic, Mark Greenberg / AP Photo

Seattle may become the hub of space tourism, says Museum of Flight CEO Douglas King.

NASA

Washington companies could have a major role in future trips to the moon, an asteroid or Mars. NASA engineers are in Seattle this week meeting with contractors working on the Orion program, designed to launch astronauts far into space, well beyond where the space shuttle traveled.

The five finalists in a contest to be sent into space as part of Seattle Needle's 50th anniversary celebration are in Seattle this week.

The final phase of the contest begins Monday morning. The finalists will each face three challenges before the winner is announced on Wednesday. (Meet the finalists after the jump and pick whom you'd send into space.)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The International Space Station may provide the setting for a 500-day pretend trip to Mars in another few years.

NASA said Tuesday that consideration is under way to use the space station as a dry run for a simulated trip to and from Mars. It would be patterned after Russia's mock flight to Mars that lasted 520 days at a Moscow research center. Six men were involved in that study, which ended late last year. They were locked in a steel capsule.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Richard Branson says his venture to launch paying tourists into space has netted its 500th customer, and it's none other than Ashton Kutcher.

William Shatner has played an attorney, a starship captain, an alien and a Roman tax collector, among many other roles. Over the past half-century, the Canadian actor has performed on television, in commercials, in movies and on Broadway — and penned several novels.

He recently returned to Broadway for the first time in over 40 years with a new solo show, Shatner's World: We Just Live In It. In the 90-minute performance, Shatner talks about his childhood growing up in Montreal and reflects on his many acting roles with an assortment of photos and video clips.

After writing about the latest developments in space travel yesterday, I wondered whose ship I would want to ride and automatically saw myself in Jeff Bezos' ship the New Sheppard. Upon reflection, I just liked the retro-scifi style of it. Although, blowing up did come to mind.

What ship would you take into space?

Keith Seinfeld / KPLU

Paul Allen is bankrolling a dramatic new space-craft, which aims to launch satellites later this decade, and maybe people, too. The project uses an airplane made from two rebuilt Boeing 747’s. 

It looks a little like a flying catamaran. It will be the largest airplane ever built, with six jet engines. And hanging from the wing in the middle will be a rocket.

Stratolaunch Systems

Paul Allen’s new company, Stratolaunch Systems hopes to bring airport-like operations to the launch of commercial and government payloads and, eventually, human missions. Plans call for a first flight within five years, according to a company press release.

The air-launch-to-orbit system will mean lower costs, greater safety, and more flexibility and responsiveness than is possible today with ground-based systems, the company declares.