Richard Branson could be Virgin Galactic’s first passenger in space as early as next year
- The space company
Virgin Galacticbelieves that it could put British billionaire Richard Branson in spaceby March 2021.
- The next phase of the test flight program will begin in fall, Virgin Galactic said during its second-quarter earnings.
- The company claims that over 600 people have already made their reservations for $250,000 per seat.
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If everything goes according to plan, Branson’s flight could be breaking through the atmosphere by the first quarter of 2021. “Expected dates may adjust as the Company processes data from each of its test flights,” Virgin Galactic added.
AdvertisementThe company also disclosed that over 600 people have made their reservations for a seat on the spacecraft for $250,000 a pop. If successful, this would pave the way for commercial trips into space if you have enough money in the bank.
Guiding Virgin Galactic forward since July 20 has been its new CEO, Michael Colglazier — the former president and managing director of Disney Parks International — who has over three decades of experience in consumer-oriented businesses.
A round trip to space and back
The spacecraft takes off from Earth’s surface tucked in the belly of a special plane. Once it’s at the right altitude, SpaceShipTwo — which is part plane and part rocket — will ignite its engine and blast towards space with a thrust that’s three and a half times Earth’s gravitational force.
Not unlike a roller coaster ride, the spacecraft will continue upward until it is around 80 kilometres above the planet. The engines will then be cut off for passengers to feel the weightlessness of being away from gravity.
There are a dozen windows on board the aircraft for viewing, and seats will be customised as per the six passengers on board. At the back of the cabin, is a large mirror where passengers can actually see themselves as they float about the cabin.
After a while, the craft will then begin its descent and glide back to Earth at Spaceport America, a landing area built in the New Mexico desert. Spaceport America completed eight test flights in the last three months and conducted several ground infrastructure support tests.
As with other space companies pioneering to take humans in space, Virgin Galactic has faced its fair share of challenges. Back in 2014, SpaceShipTwo's developed was delayed after a pilot error resulted in a a catastrophic crash.
Even though Richard Branson may take to outer space next year, the flight schedule for paying customers is yet to be announced.
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