Virgin Galactic 'Weeks' Away From Space Flight

13 October, 2018, 12:26 | Author: Dwayne Harmon
  • Virgin Galactic will be in space in “weeks not months,” says Branson

But Sir Richard has a long history of underestimating the time it takes his firm to get test flights into the air, and the company has repeatedly missed his lofty targets.

Branson's estimation puts the Virgin Galactic project not far behind its initial deadline.

What they, and the other 750 people on the list are hoping to get in return, is the extremely rare opportunity for a weightless experience out of Earth on a round-trip flight that will last just under four hours.

Speaking to CNBC on Tuesday Branson said his project was "more than tantalizingly close" to launching and he will be putting people in space not too long after that.

At full tilt, VSS Unity - the latest instantiation of SpaceShipTwo - should reach speeds in excess of 4000km/hr, or mach 3.2.

Branson said in May that Virgin Galactic and Bezos' Blue Origin were tied in the race for the first commercial spaceflight.

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"I think the market for people who would love to become astronauts, and go into space is huge, and I think it's up to us to produce as many spaceships as we can to cater to that demand", he said. Tourists will be able to cross the imaginary boundary where space begins, or the line of the Pocket at an altitude of 100 kilometers.

"Soon after that we will send into space people, so we will have a very interesting few months ahead".

The 67-year-old multi-millionaire was initially expected to take part in a space flight before April this year. Founded in 2004, the company originally aimed for a 2009 launch of its space service, but various setbacks along the way, the most serious involving the death of a pilot in a failed test flight in 2014, have slowed progress. Currently, the fare price stands at around $250,000.

He said the length of Virgin Galactic's initial flights will be kept relatively short in order to keep prices at a "reasonable level". The upper atmosphere is generally regarded to give way to space at an altitude of 62 miles (100km), almost twice the altitude achieved in the July test flight.

The claims by Sir Richard follow rival Elon Musk's SpaceX announcement it has its first private passenger it plans to fly to the moon in 2023.

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