Virgin Galactic announced on June 16 that the company will launch its first commercial space flight somewhere in the window of June 27-30.
As fate would have it, this form of extreme tourism is set to take tourists to the edge of outer space, just days after another cost the lives of five people in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean.
The company, founded to provide space flight for private individuals, said that “Galactic 01” will commence by the end of June, while “Galactic 02” will occur in August.
Galactic 01 will carry a three-person scientific crew from the Italian Air Force and the National Research Council of Italy to conduct research on microgravity.
Galactic 02 will kick off planned monthly space flights by carrying a group of wealthy tourists into space.
“We are launching the first commercial space line for Earth with two dynamic products — our scientific research and private astronaut space missions,” said Michael Colglazer, CEO of Virgin Galactic, in a press statement.
Details on the Virgin Galactic’s First Voyage
A seat on a Virgin Galactic flight costs $450,000.
A specialized four-engine jet aircraft called VMS Eve carries a spacecraft called VSS Unity and its passengers from Virgin Galactic’s “Spaceport America” in New Mexico to an altitude of about 50,000 feet. The Unity will then detach from the mothership and boost at Mach 4 into suborbital space, topping out around 260,000 feet before gliding back to Earth to land.
Passengers will experience weightlessness for a few minutes during the parabolic flight; the total flight time from launch to landing will be about 2.5 hours.
Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson was among the passengers on a successful 2021 test flight of the Unity spacecraft. The company reportedly has a waiting list of over 800 people signed up to fly into outer space.
For more information, visit virgingalactic.com.