Virgin Galactic, which last year flew its founder Richard Branson to space, will reopen ticket sales to the general public starting Wednesday, for the sum of $450,000.
Previously, only people who had paid a deposit to be on a waiting list could buy new tickets – but now sales are once more open to everyone. “We plan to have our first 1,000 customers on board at the start of commercial service later this year, providing an incredibly strong foundation as we begin regular operations and scale our fleet,” said CEO Michael Colglazier.
Established in 2004, Virgin Galactic is looking to build on the success of a high profile test mission last July.
Its target to fly its first paying individual customers towards the end of 2022 puts it behind its competition in the nascent space tourism sector – Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX – which have already flown commercial passengers.
A massive carrier aircraft takes off horizontally, gains high altitude, and drops a rocket-powered spaceplane that soars into space at Mach-3, before gliding back to Earth. The total journey time is 90 minutes, with passengers experiencing a few minutes of weightlessness in the spaceplane’s cabin; from where they can also observe the Earth’s curvature through 17 windows.
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As of last November, the company said it had sold 700 tickets.
The current fare, which includes a $150,000 deposit, is well above the $200,000-$250,000 paid; by some waiting 600 customers from 2005 to 2014.
‘Rocket debris headed for moon is Chinese‘
An astronomer who claimed a piece of one of Elon Musk’s Falcon 9 booster rockets; was going to slam into the moon in March has admitted making a mistake; he now says the hunk of space junk belongs to a Chinese rocket.
Bill Gray set the astronomy world abuzz when he made a very specific prediction about a moon impact on March 4, 2022.
While Gray has slightly tweaked his calculations to put the impact a few kilometers away from the original impact spot; he now thinks the “long cylinder, spinning slowly” is not part of a Space Exploration Technologies booster; but belongs to a Chinese rocket sent to the moon in October 2014.