Virgin Galactic Is Getting Closer Than Ever To Commercial Flights In Space
Globetrotters itching to take their travel to the next level (or planet) are one step closer to being able to book a flight to space. Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson’s space travel company, has announced that all major elements of its second spacecraft have been assembled and has achieved its “weight on wheels.” In other words, it’s now capable of carrying its own weight.
“Weight on wheels is an important milestone because it gets us closer to having an operational fleet of spaceships,” said Enrico Palermo, president of The Spaceship Company in a statement. “This is a critical milestone in the build of any airplane or any spaceship because it signifies major structural assembly is complete.”
Work on the new spaceship will now undergo a series of ground tests to ensure its safety, before beginning test flights at Mojave Air & Space Port in California.
“We now have two spaceships which are structurally complete, with our third making good progress,” CEO George Whitesides said in a statement. “These spaceships are destined to provide thousands of private astronauts with a truly transformative experience by performing regular trips to space.”
The spacecraft was designed to fit up to six passengers and two pilots on flights that will take about 15 minutes from launch to landing, where travelers will visit the lowest levels of space and experience a few moments of weightlessness before returning to Earth. The roundtrip price will run customers about US$250,000 a ticket. High profile customers already include Leonardo DiCaprio and Justin Bieber.
While Virgin Galactic has not announced an official launch date for its customers to take the first commercial flight, Branson said last year that the company anticipates a 2020 launch date.