For some reason, humankind has always looked towards the stars and dreamt of one day making the voyage into the unknown and exploring outer space. Perhaps it is our innate curiosity, perhaps the challenge presented by the seemingly impossible; whatever the lure, the quest to venture into space has become an obsession for many.
On a memorable July day in 1969, one man made a giant leap for his kind. Neil Armstrong touched down on the moon as the world watched with bated breath. Was this a beginning or the culmination of years of endeavour that pushed science to its very limits? Well, it has been a long time indeed since the last moon landing, more than 40 years, but science has not stood still in the interim, nor have our dreams become any less ambitious.
According to NASA, plans are afoot for a manned mission to Mars at some point after 2020. A return to the moon has been scheduled sooner – perhaps 2018 if NASA’s new Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) is rolled out on time. It may not be Hollywood razzle-dazzle-style progress; it may even be painstakingly slow, but rest assured that plans are afoot for something very ambitious and special indeed, and NASA may be back in the headlines making waves and history again, just as it did on that faithful day in 1969, in the not-too-distant future.
That said, it is the prospect of space tourism for the masses that has captured the headlines recently, and this may not be such a distant dream as people would expect. In 2001, an American multimillionaire, Dennis Tito, became the first space tourist, spending ten days on the International Space Station along with his crew of Russian cosmonauts, and fulfilling a lifelong ambition in the process. He described the experience rather paradoxically as ‘indescribable’; everything that he thought it would be and more. A year later, South African millionaire Mark Shuttleworth followed in his footsteps. On his return to Earth, he said, ‘every second will be with me for the rest of my life’. Clearly, these men had a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but this came at a hefty price, both paying $20 million for the pleasure of their space adventures.
At present, space tourism is undoubtedly reserved for an elite and wealthy few, but what of the future? If Eric Anderson, president of Space Adventures, the company that organised Tito and Shuttleworth’s trips, is to be believed, it will be the next big thing. ‘Everyone’s looking for a new experience’, he says. Indeed, Space Adventures is planning to offer rocket trips to the public for $100,000 within the next few years, so perhaps space tourism is closer than we think. Another company, The Space Island Group, is planning to build a space hotel inspired by the spaceship in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey
. Gene Meyers, the company’s president, predicts that in 2020 a five-day holiday at the hotel will cost less than $25,000. Imagine, he says, a five-star hotel with all the usual luxuries, except that each morning you’ll be greeted by mind-blowing views of outer space. This is certainly food for thought for adventure-seeking holiday planners. That said, unless there is a serious spike in inflation between now and 2020, $25,000 will still remain a considerable sum of money to have to part with for a recreational activity, once-in-a-lifetime or not. But that is perhaps missing the point – the prospect of affordable space travel is getting closer and closer and it is only a matter of time before it becomes a reality.
Other companies have even more ambitious plans. Bigelow Aerospace is spending close to $500 million on a project to build a 700-metre spaceship to fly tourists to the moon. The spaceship will be able to hold 100 guests, each with a private room offering truly unique views of the Earth’s sunset. Even the Hilton Hotel Group wants to get in on the act with talk of plans to build a Hilton on the moon. For the present, only millionaires can enjoy the privilege of a space journey, but in the words of one Bob Dylan, ‘The times they are a changing.’ And sooner than you’d think.
Up until very recently space travel and exploration were solely the preserve of governments, most notably the Russian and American. However, with the decline of government wealth and the dramatic increase in personal wealth, the whole landscape of space travel is changing. The first tentative steps into the commercialisation of personal space travel began when billionaire Dennis Tito paid $20 million to ride on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft for a week's holiday on a space station.
Since then, there have been seven space tourists who have paid large sums of money for a space experience. Yet, collectively, their financial contribution is minute and certainly would not appear to represent a feasible business. Richard Branson, billionaire and entrepreneur, has formed Virgin Galactic, a spaceship company with some very ambitious plans for space travel. Surprisingly, he is not alone; there are some 12 or 13 other space organizations worldwide with similar plans. Of course, there are setbacks, but Virgin Galactic plan to have to pay flights beginning in late 2017, with tickets at $250,000 each. Expensive?
Yes! But there are over 20,000 people who have expressed interest, despite the tragic death of a co-pilot during a test flight accident. It seems that people who want to take short zero gravity suborbital flights are fully aware of the dangers and are willing to take the risk. It is also worth noting that there were almost 2000 billionaires in the world in 2016, and that number is growing. So entrepreneurs like Richard Branson may represent the tip of the iceberg of young rich investors who want to make their childhood dreams of space travel come true. Obviously, the key to the success of any business venture is to ensure that the price of the product maximises sales and to reduce the very high costs of the vehicles and rockets needed to do this.
Currently, space vehicles can only be used once, so the race is on to develop reusable space vehicles. It is this reusability that will break the 'costbarrier' and bring this activity into the price bracket where middle class and moderately wealthy people can afford it.So what would you pay for a zero-gravity sub-orbital space trip? A recent, unscientific study, amongst US millennials (people who became adults around the year 2000) suggested that if the price of the flights was reduced by a factor of five - a figure entirely possible given the progress being made with reusable vehicles - the yield would be about $20 billion a year of revenues for the space tourism industry.
Twenty billion dollars is an interesting figure, as it is about the same amount generated each year by the film industry in the US through ticket, DVD and other sales. So now it is possible to make an analogy between the business model of Hollywood and space travel. Which do you think is more expensive? A Hollywood blockbuster, or the cost of a space launch? Back in the 1960s and 1970s, a space launch cost hundreds of times more than a Hollywood film. But as more money came to be spent on Hollywood movies, the cost of space travel has been decreasing.
One particularly illustrative example is the comparison between the film Avatar, a movie about life on an 'exomoon,' and the Kepler spacecraft. Both of these costs about $400 million dollars. So for about half a billion dollars, you can either get a film about life on other planets, or you can pay for a mission, which may actually find Earth-like worlds. As a scientist, which is the better deal? So what really is in the future for space travel? Probably offers of suborbital travel by companies like Virgin Galactic will become fairly common after the initial teething phase is over. Other companies are developing space hotels, so people who can afford more than just the space trips can spend their money holidaying in space.
All the technologies allowing this to happen are advancing very rapidly and most of this is happening in the private sector. Space is going to get commercialised and this may not be a good thing. Do we really want to see massive advertising signs in space? The moon littered with commercial rubbish? If this happens it will be very hard to regulate. While there is in existence a Treaty of the Moon, to acknowledge that no one can own the Moon or Mars, not one space-faring country has signed it. The future of space travel has never been more exciting than it is now. Young children with pictures of planets and space rockets on their bedroom have a greater chance thanever of actually going into space than ever before. But at what cost?
A Scottish novelist, poet, essayist, and travel writer, Robert Louis Stevenson was born at 8 Howard Place, Edinburgh, Scotland, on 13 November 1850. It has been more than 100 years since his death. Stevenson was a writer who caused conflicting opinions about his works. On one hand, he was often highly praised for his expert prose and style by many English-language critics. On the other hand, others criticised the religious themes in his works, often misunderstanding Stevenson’s own religious beliefs. Since his death a century before, critics and biographers have disagreed on the legacy of Stevenson’s writing.
Two biographers, KF and CP , wrote a biography about Stevenson with a clear focus. They chose not to criticise aspects of Stevenson’s personal life. Instead, they focused on his writing, and gave high praise to his writing style and skill. The literary pendulum has swung these days. Different critics have different opinions towards Robert Louis Stevenson’s works. Though today, Stevenson is one of the most translated authors in the world, his works have sustained a wide variety of negative criticism throughout his life. It was like a complete reversal of polarity—from highly positive to slightly less positive to clearly negative; after being highly praised as a great writer, he became an example of an author with corrupt ethics and lack of moral.
Many literary critics passed his works off as children’s stories or horror stories, and thought to have little social value in an educational setting. Stevenson’s works were often excluded from literature curriculum because of its controversial nature. These debates remain, and many critics still assert that despite his skill, his literary works still lack moral value. One of the main reasons why Stevenson’s literary works attracted so much criticism was due to the genre of his writing. Stevenson mainly wrote adventure stories, which was part of a popular and entertaining writing fad at the time. Many of us believe adventure stories are exciting, offers engaging characters, action, and mystery but ultimately can’t teach moral principles.
The plot points are one-dimensional and rarely offer a deeper moral meaning, instead focusing on exciting and shocking plot twists and thrilling events. His works were even criticised by fellow authors. Though Stevenson’s works have deeply influenced Oscar Wilde, Wilde often joked that Stevenson would have written better works if he wasn’t born in Scotland. Other authors came to Stevenson’s defence, including Galsworthy who claimed that Stevenson is a greater writer than Thomas Hardy. Despite Wilde’s criticism, Stevenson’s Scottish identity was an integral part of his written works. Although Stevenson’s works were not popular in Scotland when he was alive, many modern Scottish literary critics claim that Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson are the most influential writers in the history of Scotland.
While many critics exalt Sir Walter Scott as a literary genius because of his technical ability, others argue that Stevenson deserves the same recognition for his natural ability to capture stories and characters in words. Many of Scott’s works were taken more seriously as literature for their depth due to their tragic themes, but fans of Stevenson praise his unique style of story-telling and capture of human nature. Stevenson’s works, unlike other British authors, captured the unique day to day life of average Scottish people. Many literary critics point to this as a flaw of his works. According to the critics, truly important literature should transcend local culture and stories. However, many critics praise the local taste of his literature.
To this day, Stevenson’s works provide valuable insight to life in Scotland during the 19th century. Despite much debate of Stevenson’s writing topics, his writing was not the only source of attention for critics. Stevenson’s personal life often attracted a lot of attention from his fans and critics alike. Some even argue that his personal life eventually outshone his writing. Stevenson had been plagued with health problems his whole life, and often had to live in much warmer climates than the cold, dreary weather of Scotland in order to recover. So he took his family to a south pacific island Samoa, which was a controversial decision at that time.
However, Stevenson did not regret the decision. The sea air and thrill of adventure complimented the themes of his writing, and for a time restored his health. From there, Stevenson gained a love of travelling, and for nearly three years he wandered the eastern and central Pacific. Much of his works reflected this love of travel and adventure that Stevenson experienced in the Pacific islands. It was as a result of this biographical attention that the feeling grew that interest in Stevenson’s life had taken the place of interest in his works. Whether critics focus on his writing subjects, his religious beliefs, or his eccentric lifestyle of travel and adventure, people from the past and present have different opinions about Stevenson as an author. Today, he remains a controversial yet widely popular figure in Western literature.
Reading Passage 1 has five paragraphs A-E. Choose the correct heading for each paragraph A-E from the list of headings below. Write the correct number i-viii in boxes 1-5 on your answer sheet.
List of Headings
i Not worth the cost
ii Space travel; past, present and future
iii Russian innovations
iv A profitable investment
v The future of tourism
vi Insatiable desire for adventure
vii The first space tourists
viii Moon hotels
1 Paragraph A
2 Paragraph B
3 Paragraph C
4 Paragraph D
5 Paragraph E
Look at the following people (Questions 6-9) and the list of statements below. Match each person with the correct statement, A-D Write the correct letter, A-D, in box 6-9 on your answer sheet
A touched down on the moon in 1969
B believes space tourism will be popular in the near future
C spent ten days on the International Space Station
D was the second tourist to travel into space
E predicts space holidays will be more affordable by 2020
F will build a hotel inspired by a film
6 Denis Tito
7 Mark Shuttleworth
8 Eric Anderson
9 Gene Meyers
Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 1? In boxes 10-13 on your answer sheet, write
TRUE if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this
10 Bigelow Aerospace’s spaceship will offer unique views of the Moon’s sunset.
11 The Hilton Hotel Group has ambitious plans to organise cheap space journeys
12 NASA plans to launch a mission to Mars, but first, it is hoping to return to the moon.
13 At the moment, space tourism is too expensive for ordinary people, only the very rich can travel to space.
Questions 14 - 18
Write the correct letter in boxes 14-18 on your answer sheet. NB Your answers may be given in any order Below are listed some popular beliefs about commercial space travel.
Which FIVE of these are reported by the writer of the text?
Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 2? In boxes 19-26 on your answer sheet write
TRUE if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this
19 Space travel today remains under the control of the Russian and American governments.
20 The first commercial space passenger was Richard Branson
21 The Virgin Group was established by Richard Branson in 1970.
22 Space vehicles are presently capable of being used more than once.
23 $20 billion is the amount that millennials currently spend on space travel.
24 The film 'Avatar' cost about $400 million to make.
25 It is unlikely that recycling will become common practice on the moon.
26 Children today have a better chance of realizing their dreams of space travel than children in the 1960's did.
Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D. Write the correct letter in boxes 27-31 on your answer sheet.
Stevenson’s biographers KF and CP
The main point of the second paragraph is
According to the author, adventure stories
What does the author say about Stevenson’s works?
The lifestyle of Stevenson
Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 3? In boxes 32-35 on you answer sheet, write
TRUE if the statement is true
FALSE if the statement is false
NOT GIVEN if the information is not given in the passage
32 Although Oscar Wilde admired Robert Louis Stevenson very much, he believed Stevenson could have written greater works.
33 Robert Louis Stevenson encouraged Oscar Wilde to start writing at first.
34 Galsworthy thought Hardy is greater writer than Stevenson is.
35 Critics only paid attention to Robert Louis Stevenson’s writing topics.
Questions 36 - 40
Complete the notes using the list of words, A-I, below. Write the correct letter, A-I, in boxes 36-40 on your answer sheet.
A natural ability B romance C colorful language
D critical acclaim E humor F technical control
G storytelling H depth I human nature