galactic virgin it's a crucial step to really taking paying customers into space: the space tour company just moved its SpaceShipTwo vehicle, the VSS Unity, from its Mojave, Calif. plant to Spaceport America in New Mexico, where it will begin flights with the goal at least, sending company founder Richard Branson into space during his 70th birthday year.
VSS Unity made the trip attached to the carrier aircraft that will lift it to its launch altitude, where it will detach itself from the plane (called & # 39; VMS Eve & # 39;) and ascend to the edge of space, providing customers on board " several minutes ”of weightlessness at almost zero-G when the probe's rocket engine disengages at the height of its journey.
The 90-minute experience will cost the first tourists around $ 250,000 per ticket, which sounds very steep, but it will also be the most affordable way in which someone has experienced space travel so far. However, these ticket holders will still have to wait a while to enjoy the trip they have been waiting for for a few years – this reallocation represents a final round of testing on the spacecraft and its carrier planet, which will take some time. to complete.
This preparatory round includes several relatively uninteresting “capture and transport” flights, with the spacecraft and aircraft transported among themselves to familiarize themselves with the surrounding airspace, as well as rocket flight tests for the VSS Unity on their own. Finally, the teams will evaluate and finalize the spaceship cabin and the overall customer experience that tourists will encounter during the million dollar trip.
Given the non-insignificant list of activities remaining before a real flight, expect VSS Unity's inaugural business journeys to be a bit far away. As mentioned, the company said it at least prioritizes a 70-year trip to Branson, but depending on how things are going, it may be possible to get other commercial flights before the end of the year.