The journey between the UK and the USA may seem like a long one, with flights tending to stretch from seven to 12 hours, however this week marks a couple of events that may alter your perception.
On 14th July, flying at 14km per second (around 57 times faster than the average speed of a transatlantic flight), the ‘New Horizons’ Spacecraft made a flying visit past our solar system’s distant icy world of Pluto. What was formerly considered a planet, Pluto is currently an astonishing 4.7 billion kilometres away from Earth.
Mission quarters for the historic feat was in Maryland, on the US east coast. Tensions were high as the ground crew were waiting for information to return from New Horizons. Eventually, the data was received four hours and 25 minutes after the flyby was made (not bad, considering New Horizons itself has taken nine and a half years to get there!). The momentous event is one-of-a-kind, and has astronauts and space buffs excited across the planet, as it provides the potential for scientists to understand a whole lot more about the very creation of the solar system.
In other news, efforts to fly a solar-powered aeroplane around the world has come to a halt as the Swiss aircraft acquired damaged batteries in the final leg of the trip (from Japan to Hawaii). The global quest will begin again in 2016, after several months’ worth of repairs have taken place. Though this may appear to be a disappointment for the technicians behind the project, and of course the aviation industry on the whole, the project has already achieved great things and met many objectives, so perhaps solar-powered aeroplanes will see the skies on a commercial level within our lifetimes!
Nevertheless, for now, you can be sure that your transatlantic flight will not be flying at 31,000 mph, nor will it depend solely on solar energy to keep it in the sky. Nevertheless, the trajectory will undoubtedly be a whole lot simpler. If travelling for a period of 90 days or less, apply for ESTA online before your travel, and receive your authorisation status within 24 hours. Provided you have a valid passport, and answer the quick questions on the order form correctly, you’re set to go (no spacesuits, sorry!)
Remember, all you’ll need at the other end of that journey is your ESTA authorisation and a valid passport (don’t forget to ensure that your passport is valid when applying for ESTA online). Thanks to the Visa Waiver Programme, this is considerably minimal paperwork compared to what must have been required for the major travel feat of the week…
Travelling to the United States? Do you have your pre-planning checklist in order? Visit our ESTA Guide for more information about obtaining your travel permit. We'd love to hear from you. Send us your comments or questions for travel assistance.