Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space tourism company has unveiled its inaugural commercial flight dates.
The first flight, Galactic 01, is scheduled to take place between June 27 and 30. This initial flight will feature a crew of six individuals, including three members from the Italian air force and the National Research Council of Italy. The team will conduct microgravity research during the flight.
Galactic 02 will take off in August, carrying members of the public with monthly flights to follow.
Over the past decade, Virgin Galactic has sold approximately 800 tickets for its journeys to the edge of space, with the initial batch priced at $200,000 each.
Presently, tickets are valued at $450,000 per person. Many of the first passengers will have waited for this moment for more than a decade after purchasing their tickets. Seats have already been assigned for the first space flights.
Virgin Galactic’s CEO Michael Colglazier expressed his excitement for the highly anticipated launch.
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“This next exciting chapter for Virgin Galactic has been driven by innovation, determination and a commitment to delivering an unparalleled and truly transformative customer experience,” he said.
The unique launch method employed by Virgin Galactic distinguishes it from competitors like SpaceX and Blue Origin. Rather than vertical rocket launches, the company’s carrier aircraft, White Knight Two, takes off from a runway.
At around 10 miles above the Earth’s surface, the rocket-powered space plane VSS Unity is released and ignites its rocket motor to reach an altitude of over 50 miles. At this point, the VSS Unity crosses into the edge of space, providing passengers with a weightless and awe-inspiring view of our planet.
The experience will last around 90 minutes, including five minutes of weightlessness before gliding back to Earth and landing at Spaceport America in the New Mexico desert.
In 2012, Branson traveled successfully on a suborbital flight with Virgin Galactic.
With the imminent launch of its commercial space flights, Virgin Galactic is set to fulfill the dreams of its customers. They have patiently been waiting for more than 10 years to take flight.
However, the cost of the experience is considerable. For now, tickets will only be accessible to a privileged few.