Billionaire Richard Branson’s space tourism company reached a tipping point this week.
On Thursday, space tourism company Virgin Galactic carried out its first commercial flight, Galactic 01, into space.
This is what the company writes press release.
On board the unit’s rocket were two Italian Air Force officers and an aerospace engineer from the National Research Council of Italy. The passengers had to do scientific experiments.
Three times the speed of sound
Pushing customers were launched approximately 85.1 kilometers over the desert in New Mexico, United States, according to Reuters. With them were three employees of Virgin Galactic.
Both NASA and the US Air Force define an “astronaut” as a person who has flown more than 80 kilometers.
When the VMS Eve transport jet reached an altitude of 13.7, Unity separated from the underside. The rocket plane was sent on a nearly vertical climb into space at three times the speed of sound.
1 out of 4Photo: AP/NTB
The webcast showed live footage of the crew nearing the top of their flight and becoming weightless.
After about 75 minutes, the passengers were safely back on Earth. The crew then experienced a few minutes in weightlessness and unveiled the Italian flag in the cabin.
800 people in line
British billionaire Richard Branson is behind the company, which was founded in 2004.
Before, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Tesla founder Elon Musk offered wealthy clients trips to outer space through their companies Blue Origin and SpaceX.
Yesterday’s flight marks a significant milestone for Branson.
According to Virgin Galactic, about 800 paying customers are lining up for a similar experience.
Most pay between $250,000 and $400,000 (between NOK 2.7 and 4.3 million) per seat, Reuters writes.
It will start with the monthly space walks
The company envisions about 400 flights per year in the future when the fleet becomes large enough.
Passengers must sign a document acknowledging the risks and understanding that there is no government regulation of space tourism before taking their seats.
Virgin Galactic wrote that it will now perform inspections and analysis after yesterday’s flight, in preparation for the next commercial mission.
It has been dubbed “Galactic 02” and is due for completion in August. After that, the company will begin monthly flights into space.
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