All About Virgin Galactic’s First Paid Sightseeing Tour to Space

as reported digital look, Virgin Galactic will finally start flying paying customers into space. Billionaire Richard Branson’s company will this week launch the inaugural tourist mission called Galactic 01.

According to a statement, the flight should take place between Tuesday (27) and Friday (30), with a second launch expected in early August. On Twitter, Branson shared an introductory video about galactic missions.

After the first two flights, the aim is to launch on a monthly basis. In late May, Virgin Galactic flew the final manned test mission before resuming commercial service.

What Will the Galactic 01 Mission Look Like?

During the Galactic 01 mission, and on all Virgin Galactic manned flights, the company uses a spaceplane called the VSS Unity, which is towed to a fixed altitude by the aircraft carrier VMS Eve. Later, Unity’s engine catches fire, and it separates to continue flying alone.

The VSS Unity spacecraft is being launched aboard Virgin Galactic’s aircraft carrier VMS Eve. Credit: Disclosure/Virgin Galactic

The names of passengers on this week’s flight have not yet been released. What is known is that they will carry three members of the Italian Air Force and the Italian National Research Council, who will conduct a study on microgravity during the flight. “Along with the scientific payloads, the space flight will demonstrate the value and power of the unique suborbital science laboratory provided by Virgin Galactic,” the statement said.

Both Galactic 01 and Galactic 02, announced for August, will be suborbital, meaning they never reach enough speed to reach Earth’s orbit. Thus, the vehicle ascends to a certain point and then returns to the ground without circling the planet. Nevertheless, for a few moments during the first few minutes of flight, passengers experience the sensation of zero gravity.

Does Virgin Galactic really fly people into space?

On the company’s first manned mission, carried out in July 2021, the spacecraft reached an altitude of 89 km. The flight, in which Branson himself was aboard, sparked a controversy at the time: was it really a space experience?

Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Group, was on board the inaugural flight of Virgin Galactic, which went down in history as the first private company to take tourists into space. Image: Screenshot YouTube Virgin Galactic

This is because official data differ about the exact point that establishes the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space.

According to NASA, US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and US Armed Forces standards, this limit is 80 km above the Earth’s surface. However, another milestone at an altitude of 100 km, known as the Karmann line, has been established by the Federation of Aeronautics International (FAI).

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How much does a ticket cost?

Private companies providing space tourism services include Blue Origin and SpaceX, in addition to Virgin Galactic (though neither is dedicated exclusively to leisure travel).

Those who choose to travel on Virgin must be prepared to spend at least US$450,000 – which is equivalent to around R$2.15 million at current prices. Before that, however, interested parties pay US$1,000 (R$4,780) to join the queue, which includes big names like Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and even rival SpaceX owner Elon Musk.

payment method? An initial deposit – the so-called “down payment” – of US$150,000, with the rest to be paid by the launch date.

This information is based on information released by the company in 2021. It is not known whether the pricing and terms will remain the same. It is possible that they have been updated, if we take into account the pre-sale history of the tickets: from 2005 to 2013, the amount paid was between US$200,000 to US$250,000 (between R$956,000 and R$1.2 million). Was.

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