Once upon a time, back in 2004, I took an incredible leap of faith and purchased the very FIRST ticket on Richard Branson’s space tourism venture, Virgin Galactic. Spaceflight has always been a dream of mine and finally a chance to achieve it presented itself.
As the years have ticked by I have celebrated the fantastic successes and shared the deep sorrow of the brilliant group of people that have poured their lives into making this dream a reality. I wanted to share this article, published in Maxim magazine – I am extremely excited that this momentous day is now in sight. If you have any questions about the type of training I have done or anything else about the program feel free to contact me at [email protected]
VIRGIN GALACTIC’S FIRST COMMERCIAL SPACEFLIGHT PLANNED FOR THIS YEAR
Virgin Galactic aims to launch its first commercial spaceflight later this year, bringing space tourism closer than ever to reality.
The company’s founder, British billionaire Richard Branson, announced that operations will be moved from an experimental base in California to permanent headquarters at “Spaceport America” in southern New Mexico.
Virgin Galactic describes the facility as “world’s first, purpose-built spaceport.” The hanger, offices, fuel farm, warehouse, telemetry antenna and interior are all completed.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides indicated that commercial flights could begin as early as 2019, pending a few more tests. He will among the first passengers.
Around 600 customers have already booked the 90-minute suborbital flight for a somewhat astronomical $250,000 per ticket.
They will spend two days on Virgin Galactic’s campus preparing for the experience, which involves 10 minutes of weightlessness before a return to earth.
To sweeten the deal, Range Rover, which has had a global partnership with Virgin Galactic since 2014, is making an ultra-exclusive SUV available only to ticket holders. The blacked-out luxury ute is fittingly dubbed the “Range Rover Astronaut Edition.”
Inside Hook has further details on how each spaceflight will unfold:
Virgin Galactic spaceflights will take off from the company’s New Mexico spaceport with SpaceShipTwo attached to a larger, carrier aircraft, which will climb to an altitude of 45,000 feet.
Virgin Galactic is not without competitors. Blue Origin, the privately-funded aerospace company founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, recently reached a milestone with the successful testing of a new rocket designed to carry a human crew into suborbit.
But the commercial race to space seems to led by (who else?) Elon Musk.
The SpaceX CEO and all-around tech mastermind tweeted “The Falcons have landed” after the first commercial launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket carried a 13,000-pound telecommunications satellite into orbit. All three of the rocket’s boosters safely returned to Earth.
SpaceX could launch its first, private-company manned spaceflight as early as this summer.