Virgin Galactic is a spaceflight company that was founded in 2004 by British businessman Richard Branson. It is the first commercial spaceline company in the world and are developing new spacecraft designs to make space travel accessible to everyone. Their mission is to use space for good while delivering an immaculate customer experience. They believe that space exploration is the ultimate expression of the human desire to push desires and is the pinnacle of acheivements for the human species. Fewer than 600 humans have had the golden opportunity to visit space and there are millions of people who would do anything to go to space. This is what inspired Branson to create Galactic.
The new space age has just begun and Virgin Galactic is pioneering the next generation of reusable spacecrafts. They also are building basic space infrastructure that will enable scientitsts and engineers to conduct space research that would be vital for future life on other planets. Initially, they aim to give safe space experiences to non-professionals in micro gravity environments. Eventually, they expect to operate multiple spacecrafts from various locations to transport passengers to Earth orbiting hotels and science labs. Virgin Galactic is striving to open up space and change the world for the better.
On July 11th 2021, the VSS Unity, Virgin’s commercial spacecraft reached 53 miles beyond the boundary of space and touched down safely. It was launched from Spaceport America in New Mexico and the journey went as smooth as it could go. Onboard were 6 crewmates, including Richard Branson and they went far enough to experience weightlessness and the beautiful view of the Earth’s curvature. The launch of the VSS Unity passenger rocket plane marked Galactic’s 22nd test flight of its SpaceShipTwo system and its fourth crewed mission beyond Earth’s atmosphere. It was also the first to carry a full complement of space travellers – two pilots and four mission specialists.
These commercial space tickets are currently selling for over $250,000 each and the market for space flights is extremely limited, atleast for now. But demand is seemingly quite high as seen from the number of reservations. Virgin has said it plans for at least two more test flights of the spacecraft in the months ahead before beginning regular commercial operations in 2022. By 2030, the value of the space tourism market is said to reach $3 billion. With everything said and done, commercial space travel is still a long way from being viable and accessible to the masses.