This is what the airline did today a favour. Part of the Virgin Branson group of companies has been operating for years on a service to bring tourists into space.
A successful test flight with VSS Unity in May convinced the US regulator to issue a commercial permit for the space. It was the third time the vehicle had exceeded 50 miles (80 km), the altitude the FAA uses as the space limit.
In the May test, a crewed space plane was successfully launched from Spaceport America in New Mexico. Virgin Galactic plans to conduct three more test flights. This summer, the company wants to conduct a test flight with a full crew, according to CEO Michael Colglaiser.
The company has been selling spaceflight tickets for years. The intended space tourist must first deposit $1,000. Buyers can get money back if they change their mind. If they are sure they want to go to space, the real ticket costs 250 thousand dollars.
Branson also wants to join one of the first trips. The billionaire and his space company are engaged in a battle with Tesla’s SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and Amazon’s Blue Origin CEO Jeff Bezos. Both companies want to make space tourism possible, just like Virgin Galactic.
Bezos space flight in July
Bezos recently announced that he will be joining Blue Origin’s first manned flight in July. His brother Mark also goes, as well as a fourth person. This was the winner of an online auction for a place in the Rocket. Anonymous paid $28 million (more than €23 million) for it.
The New Shepard Blue Origin rocket should reach an altitude of more than 100 km after launch in Texas. The passengers are weightless there for a few minutes and see the curvature of the Earth. The craft then plunges back into the atmosphere to land again on Earth.