Question Sheet: Reach for the Sky


Before reading:

  1. Why do people want to go into space?
  2. Do you think space tourism is a good idea? Why or why not?

During reading:

  1. Who is Mike Melvill, and what did he do?
  2. In what ways does the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) differ from the company that built and operated SpaceShipOne?
  3. Why did Peter Diamandis decide to offer a $10 million prize for zooming into space?
  4. What is Starchaser’s entry in the tourism space race?
  5. Where is Interorbital Systems located?
  6. When will people start being able to buy tickets for space travel? How much will these trips cost?

After reading:

  1. How has interest in space travel changed since the 1960s, when the United States first put a man on the moon?
  2. A number of teams entered the X Prize competition, and most of them continue to develop rockets and spacecraft (see Which one of these ventures do you think has the most commercial potential? Why?
  3. How would working for a private space exploration company be different from working for a government space agency such as NASA?
  4. Besides getting into space, what do you think people would need to do or want to see to make space travel fun and exciting?
  5. If you had $10 million to help advance science and technology, how would you spend the money?
  6. If you were to enter the X Prize competition, what sorts of scientists, engineers, and other experts do you think you would need on your team?


Although the U.S. government has funded lots of space travel, why do you think it would be less likely to fund attempts at space tourism? What should NASA focus on if it is not interested in promoting tourism?


  1. Design a one-page ad about space tourism for a travel magazine.
  2. Write a science fiction story highlighting what might go wrong on a short trip into space.


The moon is 240,000 miles from Earth. How long will it take a rocket traveling at a speed of 25,000 miles per hour to get from Earth to the moon?