Space: the next tourist frontier


Richard Branson’s space travel company, Virgin Galactic, has recently been undergoing stringent testing of its motherships and space jets in order to reach their target of manning commercial space flights by the end of 2013. Almost 500 people have so far paid $200,000 each to experience gravity-less flight and views of the earth never before seen. It’s an awe-inspiring idea, but also makes me feel like in just 20 years time we’ll be living in white floating pods, eating freeze-dried food capsules for dinner, and paying for things with our minds…

Obviously the idea of paying $200,000 for an hour’s journey is out of the question for us non-celebrities. But what it does get us thinking about is this: in a hundred years or so, will it become similar to normal flights around the world which have slowly been taken over by budget airlines, where if you book in advance and don’t need to check-in any bags then you can fly 600 miles for £30? Space ‘tourism’ is a far way off yet, but this first step of commercial space travel could be, to use a shameful space cliché, a giant leap into something we’ve only ever seen in The Jetsons. A weird and quite scary thought indeed:

There are plenty of space-themed activities out there to give your lessons an intergalactic spin, no matter what level they’re for. With the Macmillan English Campus, simply enter “space” into the Word and Phrase Search for a variety of different activities. A sample essay, The history of NASA (MSEE006488), or a web project, The sky is the limit! (MWP006201), would both be perfect for your more advanced students, while a simple listening activity, Is there life on other planets (MLA001481) would be great for lower-level classes. Onestopenglish also has some excellent space-related lesson plans: Lindsay Clandfield has prepared some really interesting speaking activities including some discussion questions in Exploring space, while there’s also a space-themed news lesson graded at elementary, intermediate and advanced levels: simply search Life aboard the International Space Station.


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