Virgin Galactic’s first tourist flight is ready

VSS Unity roars at the edge of space. Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic has announced plans for its first passenger flight to the edge of space.

The flight window for the Galactic 02 mission opens on Thursday, August 10, and the mission will be flown by the company.

It will carry the first three paying civilians on a rocket-powered plane to an altitude eight times higher than an airliner where they can enjoy a few minutes of weightlessness and a spectacular view of the Earth that is usually protected. of astronauts. Taking off and landing at Spaceport America in New Mexico, the entire event will last approximately 70 minutes.

Details of the Galactic 02 flight demonstration, including the names of the crew and pilots, will be released closer to the flight date, the company said.

The project follows last month the first commercial airliner including two Italian Air Force pilots and an employee of the National Research Council of Italy.

Customers will fly aboard VSS Unity, which is carried to an altitude of 50,000 feet by another aircraft, VMS Eve. Eve then releases Unity, which immediately ignites its rocket engine, sending it to an altitude of about 282,000 meters (53.4 miles/86 km), about 9 kilometers from the Kármán line, which is known as the beginning of space. .

Virgin Galactic will be eager to start offering frequent rides to hundreds of people who have already paid big for the trip of a lifetime. It started selling furniture years ago for $250,000 per person, though in 2021 it raised the price to an eye-watering $450,000.

After falling behind the tourist attraction Blue Origin in the race to start commercial operations, Virgin Galactic now appears to be in danger. Blue Origin had to suspend operations last year after its suborbital rocket failed it exploded while the plane was unmanned in West Texas. The empty crew capsule was ejected and landed without incident, proving the vehicle’s safety capability. Blue Origin hopes to resume commercial flights in the coming months.

Critics say such tourism projects cause unnecessary pollution and are ultimately the playground of the super-rich. Supporters, however, say commercial flights provide opportunities for microgravity research to many organizations and businesses while also helping to inspire young engineers. These services also open the dream of space (or near-space) to a new generation of sports enthusiasts, even those with deep pockets.

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