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tv   BBC News  BBC News  September 8, 2019 7:45pm-8:00pm BST

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but she stayed clear the rest of the course, beating her british team—mate piggy french by a tenth of a penalty point. that's all from sportsday. now it's time for click. 50 years after the first humans landed on the moon, a new space race is under way. but today, it is notjust nations that are competing to put ships and people into space. private companies are getting in on it as well. in fact, they are leading the charge. elon musk‘s spacex already
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delivers cargo to the iss, and is now one of several companies exploring the notion of space tourism — putting non—professional astronauts into space. it has also signed up billionaire yusaku maezawa to take a trip around the moon. amazon boss and the world's richest man, jeff bezos, is also planning to take passengers to the edge of space by the end of 2019, with his company blue origin, and has ambitions to land humans on the moon by 202a. but there is one company that is further along the space tourism journey than any other, and now virgin galactic has opened the doors to its new hq and given marc cieslak exclusive access. fire, fire.
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it is a little after 7:00am, and i'm heading into the desert in new mexico, about 20 miles past a place called truth or consequences. the reason for that really early start is that we are going to get a very rare glimpse inside that. it bills itself as the world's very first commercial spaceport. thank you very much. welcome to spaceport. thank you. the only way that you can get to space today is with the russians, and they're currently charging nasa about $80 million a ticket. spaceport america is the new home of virgin galactic, the company founded by billionaire sir richard branson to take paying
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customers on 90—minute flights to the edge of space. the spaceport‘s exterior is the product of british architects foster + partners. eventually, five spaceships and two carrier aircraft will reside in the hangar. and spaceship from base, you go from zero minus 10 on time. it is also home to mission control, where all flight operations are monitored from, and this is the very first time that a tv crew has been allowed to film inside this room. the winds are holding, 160 at ten knots... virgin galactic has moved all of its operations to new mexico from its original base in mojave, california. the white knight two mothership aircraft has already moved in, and continues flight testing. but the actual spacecraft, dubbed spaceshiptwo, will arrive at spaceport america at a later date. the white knight carrier aircraft
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is really performing a rehearsal for a real spaceflight. it is going to ascend to the altitude where it would normally release a spaceship, perform a few manoeuvres, and come back around to land on this runway. scotsman dave mackay is virgin galactic‘s chief pilot. he takes me for a drive along the spaceport‘s two mile runway. this is something that i wanted to do all my life. i wanted to be an astronaut, and i wanted to go to space. dave successfully completed a spaceflight earlier this year, and has been awarded his commercial astronaut‘s wings. welcome to the club, astronaut. thanks, base. i like this club. what is the spaceship like to fly? the spacecraft is amazing to fly. at launch, we're sitting underneath white knight two. at release, it's like going over the top of a rollercoaster,
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so you get this lightness in your stomach, which is nice. two, one — release, release, release. you haven't lit the rocket motor yet, so there is silence just for a few seconds. we light the rocket motor. fire, fire. so we accelerate away. within a few seconds, we go through the sound barrier. we go mach 1. we are going to space. the sky goes from blue to dark blue to black in what seems like a few seconds. immediately after shutdown, you are in weightlessness. that point, we'll allow the customers to unstrap. at the end of boost, you are there with no forces on your body, no motion, because it'sjust sitting there, and no sound.
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as we are coming back down, in this feathered configuration, now we're a glider, and we've got about 15—20 minutes of gliding to come back down and land at spaceport. so different, really, to what i expected, that the words that came out of my mouth was this is unreal — just astonishing. the curvature of the earth, you see so much of it that you now get a sense of scale, of the size of the planet. and in the meantime, you're looking out into this blackness of space, and you can't help but think, well, what else is out there? i think something that a lot of people will take away with them after their spaceflight is how thin the atmosphere is, and how important it is to look after it. so far, over 600 people have signed up to take a flight with virgin galactic, with tickets costing £200,000.
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but, at a time of increased concern about the environment, is it responsible to send wealthy people to space for fun? actually, environmental impact, the c02 impact of this vehicle, is much less than you would think. by air—launching it, and because it's so small and uses carbon fibre, we actually don't have a very big rocket motor in the back. and so the per person co2 emissions is, for the average flight, around that of a business—class flight from new york to the uk. there's an awareness of our planet documented scientifically with astronauts. they come back changed, with a greater realisation of the fragility of our ecosystem and ecosphere. the irony of this idea isn't lost on space experts, though. the fact that they have to go that far into space above the planet to have that emotion of feeling protective over the world that they live in is sort of ridiculous.
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but you have to put it into perspective of the fact that space travel is very limited in how much it actually contributes to co2 emissions, in comparison to aircraft. it's a tiny fraction of what aircraft put out there. there have been delays and setbacks for virgin galactic. in 2014, one of its spacecraft crashed during flight testing, resulting in the death of its co—pilot and serious injuries for the pilot. dave mackay acknowledges the time that testing is taking. so, if you look at military test programmes, the risk levels are different. we're building a safe, reliable commercial system. it's very, very different to everything that has been done before. but we still have some more flights to do, with more people in the back, and once we've done a few more of those flights, we'll be ready to start commercial operation. so we're getting very close. it has taken longer than i guess
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we thought it would do initially, but i don't think — with hindsight, i don't think that's at all surprising. on paper, space tourism can seem a bit frivolous, but we are moving into an era of commercialisation of space travel anyway. most government—funded experiments in space, either on a space station or probes for other planets, are going to be shipped out to commercial companies, and so furthering space travel in that sense is actually going to benefit from space tourism as well. so we have to take into account not just the impact of space tourism in the sense of our economy, but also the impact from the life—changing impact that the people who will be on those planes will go through, and the impact they will have when they return to earth. when do you think virgin galactic is going to be putting paying customers up into space? when is the date — when is that going to happen? right now, according to our current projections, we think that we can start commercial operations next year. so the race is on. space could be about to get
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a lot more crowded — for those that can afford the price of a ticket, of course. wow, that was marc. this is marc. how was your trip to almost—space? it's great. it's difficult not to get excited by spaceships. yeah. so we've got amazon doing blue 0rigin, we've got spacex doing a variety of space tourism projects, and now we have virgin galactic as well. they look like they've got the most advanced proposition. but how would you rate these different companies at the moment? they're all completely different, and they all have their own advantages, their plus points. but, you know, virgin has got a spaceport that's pretty much up and running. looking at blue 0rigin‘s idea, jeff bezos is suggesting that their capsule might be autonomous. so they might launch, with the tourists inside, they'd get to look out the windows and see the earth, and then it will land back on the earth,
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but without a pilot. now, i've got an amazon echo, and alexa can barely understand me. so whether the company behind that technology — whether i would trust them to send me to space or not autonomously, i don't know. i really, really don't know. to be fair, though, spacex are launching rockets and landing them autonomously. yes, they are, in all fairness. 0k, marc, cheers. that's it for the short cut of click this week. there's plenty more in the full version, which is waiting for you right now on iplayer. you'll find us on social media, too, on youtube, facebook, instagram and twitter. thank you for watching and we'll see you soon. hello there. we have sunshine, wind,
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rain and even tropical air heading our way next week. today, the weather has been very pleasant. we had a few showers yesterday across kent, no sign of those today. indeed we have been enjoying some healthy spells of sunshine. after a really cold start in the north—east of scotland, we have seen some blue skies here as well for a while. there is more cloud coming in from the north—west, this weather front waits in the wings to bring rain overnight tonight. a fine end to the day with sunshine around, but the cloud continues to thicken across scotland and northern ireland. going to turn wetter overnight and the rain spills into wales and western parts of england, could be quite heavy. more cloud tonight, not anywhere near as cold as last night, except perhaps across east anglia, where we have clearer skies for longer. tomorrow's a bit of a messy day, the weather front bringing rain, not one of the weather fronts sweeping across, no wind to move it. instead, the wetter weather drifts south.
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patchy rain developing across eastern parts of england, outbreaks of rain and lots of cloud in the morning, the rain tending to ease in the afternoon for northern areas, turning brighter but towards wales and the south—west, we keep the rain going. it could be heavy and thundery, and it really is going to be chilly, temperatures only 1a or 15 quite widely. that weather front pulls apart, most of the rain continuing south towards iberia. this ridge of high pressure building in, but we have a weak weather front on the scene, bringing us this band of cloud, and it could produce one or two showers but dry on the whole. some sunshine around, too, and it will feel a lot warmer, especially for central and eastern parts of england, where temperatures could be up to 20 degrees. but wet and windy weather arriving in north—west later. that is on the weather fronts there and it will turn wet and windy across northern areas overnight, around an area of low pressure which contains remnants
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of ex—hurricane dorian, no longer a hurricane by this stage, but it will bring and windy weather overnight. and through wednesday, it sweeps towards southern parts of england, becoming light and patchy. behind it, we get more sunshine arriving, some showers across scotland but temperatures higherfor all of us.
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this is bbc news. the headlines at 8pm: amber rudd quits boris johnson's cabinet, attacking his handling of brexit — the government insists it is doing all it can to get a new deal you might expect in the balance between getting a deal and no deal, 50—50 in terms of work, but it's not that, it's, like, 80, 90% of government time going into preparing for no—deal. we're always going to behave lawfully as a government. of course you'd expect that. and, anyway, it'll be challenged in the courts. but what we are going to do with that legislation is test very carefully what it does and doesn't require. and that's not only the lawful thing to do, i think it's the responsible thing to do. peace talks between the taliban and the us are called off. president trump blames a deadly attack in the afghan capital, kabul. hours to go before british airways pilots go on strike,


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