Virgin Galactic Gears Up for Next Space Tourism Flight

The countdown has begun. As we edge closer to September 8, anticipation fills the air for Virgin Galactic's next commercial space tourism expedition, aptly named Galactic 03

by Faruk Imamovic
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Virgin Galactic Gears Up for Next Space Tourism Flight
© Getty Images News/Daniel Berehulak

The countdown has begun. As we edge closer to September 8, anticipation fills the air for Virgin Galactic's next commercial space tourism expedition, named Galactic 03. This marks the third commercial venture for the company but the eighth overall mission into the vast expanse above us.

The Dawn of Commercial Space Tourism

Sir Richard Branson's brainchild, Virgin Galactic, is not only pioneering the journey into space for the elite, but it's also leading the race in making it a reality for all. Originating from the vast desert of Spaceport America in New Mexico, this flight represents the dreams and aspirations of many.

However, with the current ticket price standing at a staggering $450,000, the experience remains an exclusive luxury for the super-rich, at least for now. This hasn't deterred dedicated space enthusiasts, as many have waited over a decade for their turn.

Jon Goodwin, a previous passenger, waited more than ten years for his seat on the previous flight. The Galactic 03 mission has a significant distinction: it's the first where all passengers have shelled out for their tickets.

An interesting tidbit from the Galactic archives reveals that some of these cosmic adventurers secured their tickets as early as 2005.

The Journey Aboard the ISS Unity

Under the guidance of Colin Bennett, one of Virgin's esteemed astronaut instructors, the passengers will be embarking on a unique voyage.

Steering the ISS Unity space plane will be the seasoned hands of Nicola Pecile and Michael Masucci. The entire escapade, from liftoff to landing, unfolds in roughly 60 minutes. Beginning with the VMS Eve plane lifting the VSS Unity to a height of 15,000 meters, the adventure truly kickstarts when VSS Unity is released.

A powerful rocket engine then propels the pilot and passengers to the edge of space, where the feeling of weightlessness can be relished, if only for a few moments. Virgin Galactic has announced monthly spaceflights on their horizon.

With the first completed on August 10 and the next penned for September 8, it seems the stars are truly aligning for Branson and his crew.

Competition in the Space Tourism Industry

But Virgin Galactic isn't the only company in this game.

Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin also offers suborbital trips with their New Shepard vehicle. However, a hiccup last year during an unmanned science mission has temporarily grounded them. Despite this, Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith assures that New Shepard will grace the skies and venture to the cosmos in just a few weeks.

Space tourism, once a pipe dream, is fast becoming a reality. With giants like Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin leading the charge, the future looks brighter (and more adventurous) than ever.

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