The time seems to be coming a lot sooner rather than later for Virgin Galactic, who are very close to being bound for space and whole new atmosphere customers have never seen before. Last Friday, Jan. 10th, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShip2 shot up into the air and reached the highest estimate yet at 71,000 feet, about two times higher than the test.
The ship that was launched over the Mojave Desert in California, was estimated going 1.4 times the speed of sound. The testing itself has come along way since it first started, but Virgin Galactic is still about 61 miles short of their goal of crossing the Earth’s atmosphere. Dave Mackay and Mark Stucky, who were the two captains of the Virgin Galactic. Mackay is a former airline captain for Virgin Atlantic; he left that position to become the chief pilot for the space line. Mackay said it was about unbelievable when he first heard the launch, and that it was such a beautiful experience.
Virgin Galactic has an ideal plan for its direction and here are some of the details of the spacecraft itself they have released. The aircraft plan reports it will carry at least six passengers, will have two pilots who can switch seats for the controls. When they have reached the ideal height for viewing, the customers would be allow to view the Earth’s curve in space along with other spectacular views. After the tour is over, the craft will take off for the landing using thrusters to get them going; this was part of the testing on Friday when they took off.
The idea itself first came from Richard Branson, a very successful billionaire who built Virgin from scratch. His company has definitely expanded far beyond of what he started with, from Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Records music label. Now he is trying to explore and profit on something no one else has ever done before by offering a ticket to space.
Paying to go see the space and atmosphere outside the earth does sound like a blast, but it comes with a steep price tag; a seat on the Virgin Galactic will run $250,000. Ticket prices haven’t swayed people away one bit as it is estimated to have about 640 individuals already signed up for the once of a lifetime trip. Some of the people on the list are known celebrities like Stephen Hawking, Justin Bieber, Tom Hanks, Ashton Kutcher, Katy Perry, Brad Pitt, and Angelina Jolie. The flight itself will be about 2 hours long, with six minutes of weightlessness, as they cruise along in the journey.
Virgin does not plan on only having one space launching area as well; they announced in 2008 that they would like to also include a Spaceport in Sweden. Virgin Galactic does have what some of the competition are working on in their own space programs as well. However, many have noticed that Virgin is not far off from reaching their goal of being the first commercially bound for space.
by Justin Huffman