Virgin Galactic is a crucial step closer to actually paying paying customers to space: the space tourism company has just moved its SpaceShipTwo vehicle, the VSS Unity, from its production facility in Mojave, California to Spaceport America in New Mexico, where it will begin with flights aiming at least founder of the company Richard Branson to space during the year of his 70th birthday.
VSS Unity linked the voyage to the aircraft carrier that will take it to its launch height, where it will disengage from the aircraft (called & # 39; VMS Eve & # 39;) and climb to the edge of the room, allowing customers on board & # 39; several minutes of weightlessness in almost zero-G when the spacecraft's rocket engine is turned off at the height of its journey.
The 90-minute experience costs the first tourists around $ 250,000 per ticket, which sounds steep, but will also be the most affordable way that anyone has experienced so far. However, those ticket holders will have to wait a little while longer to enjoy the journey they have been waiting for for a few years now – this move will start a final test run on the spacecraft and complete its carrier planet that will take some time.
This preparation round includes a number of relatively non-exciting "capture and carry" flights with the spaceship and aircraft carriers attached to each other to become familiar with the surrounding airspace, as well as rocket flight tests for the VSS Unity itself. Finally, teams will review and complete the spacecraft's cabin, and the overall customer experience that tourists will experience during their one-quarter-million-dollar trip.
Given that not unimportant list of remaining activities prior to an actual flight, the inaugural commercial journeys of VSS Unity still expect a small way out. As mentioned, the company has said it at least gives priority to a 70th birthday for Branson, but depending on how it goes, it may also have other commercial flights before the end of the year.