Richard Branson’s company Virgin Galactic intends to conduct a test flight of its SpaceShipTwo suborbital spacecraft at the end of May. And already in June, the first commercial flight with tourists on board is planned to take place.
Virgin Galactic is ready to fly
The company of billionaire Richard Branson, who recently visited Ukraine, is preparing to launch tourist suborbital flights. Representatives of Virgin Galactic announced this on Monday, May 8. They plan to finally end the break that has been going on for almost two years.
Initially, the Unity 25 mission is due to take place at the end of May. This, in fact, will be a test flight, during which the company’s employees will be on board. During it, the spacecraft will rise to a height of 80 km and prove that it is ready to transport tourists.
The total travel time is 90 minutes, while passengers feel weightlessness in the cabin of a space plane for several minutes. Virgin flights will launch from the spaceport of America in New Mexico.
The crew of the Unity 25 mission will consist of two men and two women: Beth Moses, who has taken part in two previous Virgin Galactic flights, Jamila Gilbert, Chris Huie and Luke Mays, who spent several years training NASA astronauts.
Beginning of tourist flights
As for tourist flights, they are planned to start in June. The first mission will be called Galactic 01. It is known that its passengers will be representatives of the Italian Air Force. If this goes as planned, then soon the Virgin Galactic should become the company that has taken more people into space.
The path to this was thorny. Pre-sale of tickets for Virgin Galactic’s suborbital flight began back in 2005. From then until 2014, 600 people booked seats on their spaceplane, which was just beginning to be tested. Each of them paid from 200 to 250 thousand dollars.
In 2014, a terrible accident occurred, as a result of which the spacecraft crashed, and its pilot was dead. Since then, Virgin Galactic has become a little more cautious in their promises, but it was still able to sell 200 more tickets, each of which cost 450 thousand dollars.
The company’s main competitor is Blue Origin. They also offer orbital flights, although they launch in an upright position. Jeff Bezos’ company managed to take 32 people into space.
However, after the accident of an unmanned rocket in September 2022, Blue Origin suspended tourist flights. So, Virgin Galactic has an excellent chance to overtake its main competitors, if technical problems do not interfere with their grandiose plans once again.
According to phys.org
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