Space travel

EU may soon welcome back US Travelers + Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center to reopen

Sick of being stuck at home? Eyeing Europe for that first post-pandemic trip?

You may be in luck. A New York Times story on Sunday evening offers real hope that you may be able to head that way. Perhaps as early as this summer.

According to the NYT, the EU is Set to Let Vaccinated U.S. Tourists Visit This Summer.

Nonessential travel into EU countries from the US has been shut down for more than a year. But European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tells the New York Times that the union’s 27 members will accept people who are vaccinated with vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (E.M.A.). The agency gives the OK to the three vaccines being used in the United States: Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson.

“The Americans, as far as I can see, use European Medicines Agency-approved vaccines,” von der Leyen said. “This will enable free movement and travel to the European Union.”

No exact timeline for easing the travel restrictions is set. And discussions are still underway on how to create a safe and technologically reliable way for travelers to show a vaccine certificate. But on Monday Greece plans to begin opening its borders to travelers who show proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test.

More information will likely come out this week. But, yay!? Are you ready to go?

Until the EU is open, how about a trip to space?

Mercury MR-3, “Freedom 7” and Apollo 11 Command Module, “Columbia. ” Smithsonian Photo by Mark Avino

While the National Air & Space Museum on the National Mall in Washington D.C. remains closed for now, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, near Washington Dulles International Airport, announces it will reopen on Wednesday, May 5.

Free, timed entry passes are available. And masks, of courses, are required of all visitors. But this is good news for avgeeks and space fans alike.

In celebration of the 60th anniversary of Alan Shepard’s historic spaceflight on May 5, 1961, the Mercury capsule Freedom 7 is now on display at the Udvar-Hazy Center. That capsule sits next to command module Columbia, which took the Apollo 11 astronauts to the Moon and back in 1969. (Above)

This Blue Angels F-18 Hornet is new to the collection and is now on display in the Boeing Aviation Hangar.

The Blue Angel McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Hornet in the Boeing Aviation Hangar. Smithsonian Photo

Can’t get to the museum just yet? Check out the Air & Space Museum’s online artifact database (including some 3D images), the podcast, and other resources.

Astronauts have that isolation live/work thing down

Last week was World Space Week and Viking TV (a pandemic project of Viking Cruises) offered a full week of space-themed content.

I tuned in for the “When Space is Home” panel discussion with journalist Lynn Sherr and four former astronauts.

On the list of topics: animals in space, new toilets in space, and food in space.

And tips the astronauts might have for us about dealing with isolation.

A highlighted passage from my notes includes this advice: “Spend more time choosing your interactions and make them count more.”

The panelists you’ll hear from in the video below include:

Dr. Anna Fisher – In 1984, she was the first mother in space.

 Colonel Jack Fischer – During a 2017 mission, Fischer logged 136 days in space with two spacewalks.

Dr. Richard Linnehan – The first veterinarian in space.

Barbara Morgan – She pioneered the “Teacher in Space” program and flew on Space Shuttle Endeavour in 2007.

Prize patrol: Space trip from Land Rover & Virgin Galactic

As part of the debut for its new compact SUV called the Discovery Sport, Land Rover has unveiled a contest with partner Virgin Galactic to send you and three friends into space.

Virgin Galactic

To enter the Galactic Discovery competition, you’ll need to have a Facebook account and you’ll need to produce a 30-second video (or still image) that demonstrates your spirit of adventure. You also need to make sure the three friends you name as your space buddies are indeed willing to go along.

Got all that? Then submit your entry materials here.

Be sure to look closely at the Terms and Condition of the contest.

The bonus prize in the contest is indeed a trip to Space with Virgin Galactic

“The winner will take a number in the overall queue and be assigned a date accordingly for the Space Flight by Virgin Galactic” within the first one thousand private space flights taking off from the Spaceport America, New Mexico USA.

There are also two other prize packages: For residents of Canada, there’s a prize consisting of round-trip economy tickets for four to New Mexico, three nights’ hotel accommodations (in two standard rooms, double occupancy), a tour of the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space facility and the chance to take a desert off-road driving experience in a Land Rover.

The prize for U.S. residents includes: a trip for four (4) to ….Iceland, with flights and hotels covered and meals and activities “to be determined.”

Here’s the Land Rover film promoting the contest. Good luck!