By Brady Knox,
Published by Washington Examiner, 16 June 2023
The commercial space flight company Virgin Galactic is set to begin commercial space flights in June, with tickets costing $450,000.
The flights come shortly after the company broke its two-year hiatus with a final pre-commercial test flight in May. The test flight, Unity 25, was the 25th flight and fifth spaceflight undertaken by the company. It served as the last test to prepare for commercial operations later this month.
“Unity 25 is the final assessment of the full spaceflight system and astronaut experience before commercial service opens in late June,” the company wrote in a press release last month.
Wealthy customers have been clamoring for years to get their hands on the tickets, which have been on sale since 2005, AFP reported. The hundreds of interested customers have resulted in a huge backlog, Virgin Galactic spokesman Jeff Michaels told the Washington Examiner. He said that the company has sold about 800 tickets.
“I can’t foresee any complications, nor can our president, Michael Colglazier,” Michaels said. “But weather could, I suppose, cause a delay. But we’re currently all set for late June.”
Each commercial flight can carry four passengers. Each flight will last about 90 minutes. The flight begins when the shuttle, attached to a plane, takes off from a runway and is flown to an altitude of 50,000 feet. The shuttle then detaches from the “mothership,” and the rocket engine ignites, sending it into space at nearly 3 1/2 times the speed of sound.
After 60 seconds, passengers can unbuckle and experience zero gravity as the shuttle briefly floats in space. The craft then will glide back down to Earth and land on the runway it took off from.
Virgin Galactic doesn’t have a monopoly on commercial spaceflight, however. Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin has dipped into the commercial spaceflight business as well, beating the company to the first commercial space flight. Tickets for Blue Origin are far more expensive, however, costing roughly $1.25 million each, according to Spaceflight Now.
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