Virgin Galactic aims to launch space tourism before the end of 2019

Richard Branson speaks during a ceremony at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington on Feb. 7 . AFP/File/Jim WATSON

Richard Branson speaks during a ceremony at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington on Feb. 7 . AFP/File/Jim WATSON

Richard Branson himself aims to be on the first commercial flight.

Richard Branson’s space tourism company, Virgin Galactic, announced last week that it would move headquarters from Mojave California to Spaceport America, New Mexico, in preparation for its first space tours, which are set to launch before the end of the year.

George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company, said in a statement: “The first photograph of Earth from space was taken over New Mexico in October of 1946. How inspiring and appropriate that the state will soon host the first regular commercial spaceflight service, which will enable thousands of people to see Earth from space with their own eyes.”

Virgin Galactic will be moving more than 100 employees and their families as well as the aircraft VMS Eve and spaceship VSS Unity over the next few months, while engineers at the company finalise the cabin design for its rocket ships. The company has already tested a fully loaded passenger sub-orbital flight back in February but aims to spend a few months conducting final test flights before the first trips can begin sometime toward December.

Among those on the first flights will be celebrities Justin Bieber and Leonardo Di Caprio, who have already shelled out the R3 million odd that it takes to buy a ticket. Branson himself aims to be on the first commercial flight, which was initially scheduled for July to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 space mission.

“Our future success as a species rests on the planetary perspective,” Branson told USA Today. “The perspective that we know comes sharply into focus when that planet is viewed from the black sky of space.”


 


 


 

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