The last year of 2021! Let's move on to what news MysticLand World Discovery has in store for us this week!
Verum theatrically declared, “And the winner is Sir Richard Branson of the United Kingdom (UK)!”
She added, “He flew to the edge of space onboard his Virgin Galactic rocket plane. This makes him the first space tourism pioneer to try out his own vehicle.”
Her crystal ball projected the video. Once it ended, the four Mysticals were awestruck. While it was possible for the Mysticals to easily travel to space in a tempus machine, it was an important moment for humans.
“Rightfully so,” mused Orak, “Branson was among the first people to envision space tourism. I think he spoke about it way back in 2004. He announced his intention to make a spaceplane, which would evolve into commercial service by 2007.”
“It’s 2021 now!” said Felix, “What took him so long?”
“Technical difficulties including a fatal crash in 2014,” explained Verum, “But Branson flew to space in the Unity vehicle developed by Virgin Galactic over 17 years!”
“Oh, so, other billionaires who are into this field such as tech entrepreneur Elon Musk and Amazon.com founder, Jeff Bezos arrived at the scene much later,” said Orak, “Could you tell us more about Sir Branson’s flight?”
“Of course,” said Verum, “Sir Richard Branson’s flight to the edge of space took off from Spaceport in New Mexico, United States. The United rocket plane was carried by a much larger plane up to 46,000 feet. At this altitude, it disengaged and successfully flew to space. After roughly reaching a height of 90 kilometers or 295,000 feet, the Unity returned to the Earth.”
“Wait a minute,” said a puzzled Orak, “Isn’t the internationally recognized altitude for space 100 kilometers? Did Branson’s rocket reach space after all?”
“Well, the US government recognizes it to be 8o kilometers,” said Verum.
“When will this become a commercial enterprise, Verum?” said Felix.
“Branson plans to start selling this space tourism experience from next year after making the improvements he noted during this flight,” said Verum, “However, at least 600 individuals have paid deposits for tickets priced around $250,000.”
“I have the coolest news for you today,” Orak told Verum, Scorch, and Felix, “The astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have created their own version of the Olympic Games – Space Olympics!”
“Olympics in space?” Scorch squealed, “I want to hear all about it!”
Orak explained, “The ISS is a space station that orbits Earth. Currently, seven astronauts are living on the ISS. When the Tokyo Olympics 2020 began, they watched the opening ceremony and followed the games. They wanted to play too!
The usual Olympic Games such as wrestling, swimming, sharpshooting, etc. cannot be conducted in zero gravity. Gravity is a force that attracts objects towards each other and holds them together. Zero gravity is a state of being where there’s no gravity.”
“It means our bodies become weightless and float in the air!” Felix said.
“But the astronauts thought, why should they miss out on all the fun?” Orak said, “So, the crew came up with games that can be played in zero gravity!
Next, they split up into two teams – Soyuz and Crew Dragon. They put up mini flags of the participating countries.”
“Which games did they play?” Verum said.
“They played a lack-of-floor routine where the astronauts tried to perform a gymnastics routine without touching anything. They also created a game called No-handball. The teams tried to score a goal without using their hands. They passed the floating ball by blowing it!”
“It must have been so much fun!” Verum laughed.
Scorch said, “The astronauts celebrated the Olympic spirit in such a unique way!”
“Whoopee! Italy won the European Championship title against England. This is so exciting!” said Scorch.
“What was the score?” inquired Felix.
“Since it was 1-1 at the end of the 90-minute match, 30 minutes extra play-time was given. Even then, the score remained 1-1. Post that, a penalty shootout was arranged in which Italy scored three goals and England scored two, resulting in the final score of 3-2,” Scorch informed.
“What are penalty shootouts?” Felix said, a little lost.
“These are five kicks given to each team after the score is tied. A tie is a score where both competing teams have scored equal goals. The shootout is given after the regular playing time and extra time. In that, each of the five chosen players from each team stands before the penalty mark – the white line marked before a goal post – and tries to score a goal. The team that scores the most goals in penalty shootouts, wins. In this case, it was Italy,” Scorch explained.
This was Italy’s second Euro Cup title and the first one in 53 years! That’s the longest gap by any country in the tournament. That’s what makes this win an auspicious and memorable one. But it was heavily disappointing for England, as they’ve been waiting to win a major trophy for 55 years!
“Wait, wait. I’m confused. What is the Euro Cup though?” Felix wondered.
“Formally known as UEFA European Championship, Euro Cup is a quadrennial (held every four years) championship which is organized for members of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). The first final of the championship took place in 1960. You can say it’s only second in terms of popularity and prestige to the World Cup,” Scorch replied.
“Oh, no wonder winning this was so important and glorious for Italy,” Felix said.