In the 1960s, the singing group known as The 5th Dimension, sang the beautiful song “Up, Up, and Away” about two lovers taking a romantic balloon ride among the stars and moon. Today that balloon ride into space will soon be possible. A new space tourism company World View has plans to fly people to the stratosphere in a giant “balloon” for $75 thousand. The commercial space venture has plans to open in 2015.
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key.
Excerpt: Balloon Ride to Offer Expansive View, for a Price By Kenneth Chang, The New York Times
“And now, a high-altitude adventure for the leisure class, people who do not want to be jostled as they sip Champagne and gaze down at Earth’s curved blue surface.
A new space tourism company named World View unveiled its plans on Tuesday to loft passengers to the stratosphere as early as 2015, not by rocket but by giant balloon. Price: $75,000. (Drinks included.) World View is led by the same people involved in Inspiration Mars, a private endeavor to launch two people in 2018 to a flyby of the red planet.
This is a very gentle flight that will last for hours aloft, said Jane Poynter, World View’s chief executive. She said the cabin would be about the size of that of a private jet, and would have a superbly comfortable, luxurious interior where you can get up and stand upright and move around and go back to the bar and get a drink.
Over the past few years, space tourism companies like Virgin Galactic and XCOR Aerospace have sold hundreds of tickets for suborbital rocket trips, with the first paying passengers scheduled to get their rides as early as next year. But the rockets are essentially big roller-coaster rides, with the exciting portion at the top of the arc lasting just a few minutes.
By contrast, World View’s balloon and capsule, with six passengers and two crew members, would take about an hour and a half to reach altitude and then drift for a couple of hours before the balloon was jettisoned and the capsule would glide back to Earth beneath an inflated parasail…The principal shortcoming: you would not actually get to space, nor would you get to call yourself an astronaut afterward
The balloon would rise about 18.5 miles, not quite a third of the way to the 62-mile altitude that is considered the beginning of outer space. But it is high enough to view the planet’s curvature and for the sky to darken from blue to black.
Even though the World View capsule will not reach space, the Federal Aviation Administration will regulate it as a commercial space venture, because the capsule is built to operate in space conditions. World View’s application to the F.A.A. noted that at an altitude of 20 miles, water and blood boil at a much lower temperature and decompression would be fatal. World View’s capsule, but the two are separate companies.
Investors in the venture include Philippe Bourguignon, a former president of Euro Disney and current chief executive of Miraval resorts.”Read more…
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post
Level: Intermediate -Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, speaking and listening. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson) access to news article, and video.
Objective: Students will read the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through discussions, and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Stimulating background knowledge
Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about commercial space flights in the U.S. Next, have students look at the picture(s) in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article. Debrief as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use this great Brainstorming chart from Kootation.com
II. While Reading Activities
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance. Word Chart by Education Oasis.
- This is a high-altitude adventure for the leisure class.
- This flight is for people who do not want to be jostled as they sip Champagne.
- Passengers will travel to the stratosphere as early as 2015.
- But the rockets are essentially big roller-coaster rides.
- The balloon would jettisoned and the capsule would glide back to Earth.
- You would not actually get to call yourself an astronaut afterward.
- Launching sites have not yet been chosen.
- The nascent commercial space companies like World View could offer more opportunities.
- Dennis Tito is an entrepreneur.
- Philippe Bourguignon is an investor in the venture.
Directions: Review the following statements from the reading. If a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they mark it F and provide the correct answer.
- The space tourism company is named Virgin Galactic.
- The cost for a ride will be $5 thousand dollars.
- The vehicle will be a giant balloon.
- Children under age 12 will ride for free.
- The shortcoming is that you must pay the full amount at once.
- World View’s balloon and capsule carries six passengers.
- The trip would take about an hour.
- Virgin Galactic charges $250,000 for their trips.
- People can make reservations for the trip now.
- Virgin Galactic is described as being a big roller-coaster ride.
Using Adjectives to describe pictures
Directions: Have students choose a picture from this lesson and write a descriptive paragraph using adjectives.
For a review of Adjectives visit ESL Voices Grammar
III. Post Reading Tasks
Reading Comprehension Check
Directions: Have students use the WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.
Who or What is the article about?
Where does the action/event take place?
When does the action/event take place?
Why did the action/event occur?
How did the action/event occur?
Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.
1. The article states, “…space tourism companies like Virgin Galactic and XCOR Aerospace have sold hundreds of tickets for suborbital rocket trips… But the rockets are essentially big roller-coaster rides, with the exciting portion at the top of the arc lasting just a few minutes.” Explain the difference between these “roller-coaster” rides and the space ride offered by World View.
2. Do you think it’s fair that only people with money will be able to enjoy these space rides? If you could, what would you do to allow all people a chance to ride into space?
3. If you could afford it would you take one of these rides? Explain why or why not.
IV. Listening Activity
Video Clip: World View Balloon Aims To Give You An Outer-Space View
A new venture headed by veteran space entrepreneurs plans to send tourists on a balloon at a price of $75,000 a ticket.
While Listening Activities
Sentence Fill-ins from word List
Directions: Students listen for the correct word or phrase to complete the sentences taken from the video. They are to choose from the word list.
“How about a ___in a high ___balloon? The folks at ___based World View enterprises are working to make such rides a reality. A new___ shows a ___of a balloon lifting a 8- passenger capsule, 19 miles ___up. The whole ride up and back to earth would take about four hours. And of course it’s going to cost you, just a ___seventy-five thousand bucks. The ___ must ___the whole thing before any ___can take place and that could happen by the end of 2016.
FAA, measly, flights, ride, straight, approve, video, depiction, altitude, Tucson,
Questions for Discussion
Directions:Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions.
1. After listening to this video has your personal idea of commercial space travel changed in any way? If yes, describe in what way. If no, describe your original opinion.
2. With your group members, make up questions that you would like to ask the speakers.
ANSWER KEY: Commercial spaceflights