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Space & Astronomy

Virgin Galactic to initiate flights in 2018

By T.K. Randall
April 30, 2017 · Comment icon 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."

Source: | Comments (2)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by LV-426 7 years ago
Wow! I haven't been paying too close attention to the development, but I didn't realise the project was that close to going live. Especially after the test fatality a couple of years back.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 7 years ago
I would take Virgin's predictions of when they will start passenger flights with a little pinch of salt. They have been claiming that such flights will happen "within a year" since at least 2012.

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