All of a sudden, when you’ve achieved everything in life, a melancholic and claustrophobic sensation might grow root in your mind. Money has gotten you everywhere and the world is simply not enough. One might very well assume that it was feelings of this kind that led Sir Richard Branson to found Virgin Galactic.
Virgin Galactic, founded in 2004 and based in New Mexico, aims to, within the near future, provide sub-orbital spaceflights to space tourists. Sub-orbital means the vessel is launched in such a trajectory that it exceeds altitude higher than 100 km above sea level but does not complete a full orbit.
New Mexico Spaceport (commissioned by New Mexico)
In 2009, Sir Branson, unveiled the SpaceShip Two, which is based on the first ever private vessel in space, the SpaceShip One. The 18 meter long SpaceShip Two holds a crew of two and six passenger and is powered by a hybrid rocked engine.
The SpaceShip Two will be carried to about a 16.000 meters by its mothership, White Knight II, before undertaking the rest of journey to 21.000 km by itself.
It´s planned trajectory will overlap the Earth’s atmosphere at 21.000m giving the space tourists about six minutes of weightlessness (you’re allowed to release yourself from your seat during the period weightlessness). The total travel from takeoff to touchdown will last approximately 2.5 hours.
A ticket will set you back $200.000, with an initial deposit of $20.000. As of June 2012, Virgin Galatic already has over 550 paid deposits. Ticket-holders include Stephen Hawking, Tom Hanks, Ashton Kutcher, Katy Perry, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jones. In other words, mostly people tired of their terrestrial existence.
It’s marvelous to behold where humanity’s insatiable lust for conquest and adventure.
Author: Olle Elander Wistén