You could say Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic is rather ambitious in his efforts on bringing passengers into Space for leisure. Thankfully, this project is now one step closer to launch, with the fourth test flight of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, the VSS Unity, going smoothly and without a hitch.
The crewed vehicle built for commercial passenger service took off from California’s Mojave Desert and reached an altitude of 82 km – beyond the height which NASA considers as space, making it the very first time in human history. Piloted by Mark “Forger” Stucky and Frederick “CJ” Sturckow, the spaceship then returned to earth with a smooth runway landing and an emotional homecoming welcome. The achievement has also been recognised by both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the NASA Flight Opportunities Program – the latter flew four space science and technology experiments on VSS Unity, making this the company’s first revenue generating flight. Currently almost 700 people have signed up for the space tourism experience, paying as much as a staggering US$250,000 for a seat, with only six passengers per trip.