Virgin Galactic: Richard Branson launches space flight
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Virgin Galactic has revealed plans to start taking tourists into space every single day. The private space company successfully launched its founder, Sir Richard Branson, to the edge of space on Sunday, in what was a ground-breaking test flight for space tourism.
The billionaire launched from Spaceport America on Sunday afternoon, in a rocket plane that’s been in development for almost two decades.
Branson’s rocket plane, known as Unity, was launched by a larger space rocket, before the plane was released, and climbed to 282,000ft.
He safely returned to Earth an hour later, and the trip was deemed a huge success.
The Virgin founder revealed the mission was “an experience of a lifetime”.
“I have dreamt of this moment since I was a kid, but honestly nothing can prepare you for the view of Earth from space,” he said.
“The whole thing was just magical.”
Shortly after landing, Branson tweeted: “I was once a child with a dream looking up to the stars.
Now I’m an adult in a spaceship looking down to our beautiful Earth.
“To the next generation of dreamers: if we can do this, just imagine what you can do.”
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Virgin Galactic plans for the future
After the successful trip, the space company has laid down its timeline of plans for the future.
Virgin Galactic will be aiming to send at least one rocket into space every single day, according to chief executive Michael Colglazier.
There’s still no firm guide for tourists hoping to reach the edge of the Earth, however.
The company faces a number of hurdles before reaching its overall aim, warned Colglazier.
“I think for a while this is going to be a very supply-constrained business,” he told the Financial Times.
“At every spaceport we’re going to target about 400 flights a year.
“I’m expecting high single-digit numbers to low double-digit numbers of spaceships [at each site] in order to kind of reach numbers like that.”
Each plane will have the capacity for four passengers, with more than 600 people already lined up for their first flight.
Tickets will cost upwards of $250,000 (£180,000), and will allow customers to view the Earth’s surface curving into the distance with black skies.
Branson described the trip as a test for space tourism, and he expects to start delivering flights from next year.
“I’ve had my notebook with me and I’ve written down 30 or 40 little things that will make the experience for the next person who goes to space with us that much better,” he said.
“The only way sometimes you can find these little things is to get in a spaceship and go to space and experience it for yourself.”
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