Space & Astronomy
Virgin Galactic to initiate flights in 2018
April 30, 2017 | 2 comments
The VSS Unity was unveiled last year. Image Credit: YouTube / Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson's fledgling space tourism firm is aiming to begin flying tourists in to space next year.
It's been a bumpy few years for Virgin Galactic, especially with the loss of its original SpaceShipTwo in October 2014 - an accident that not only claimed the life of a pilot, but also cast doubt on whether the company's lofty goal of carrying tourists in to space would ever happen at all.
Now though, following the success of SpaceShipTwo's successor 'VSS Unity', it is looking as though commercial flights will be happening before the end of next year.
Each flight will carry six passengers and two pilots up to an altitude of around 62 miles - that's high enough to experience weightlessness and to see the Earth against the blackness of space.
At present there are over 500 bookings, each costing an eye-watering $250,000. Several high-profile space tourists, including Professor Stephen Hawking, will be among the first to fly.
"I think I'd be very disappointed if we're not into space with a test flight by the end of the year and I'm not into space myself next year and the progamme isn't well underway by the end of next year," said Branson.
"The test programme is going really well, and as long as we've got our brave test pilots pushing it to the limit we think that after whatever it is, 12 years of hard work, we're nearly there."
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