If you have an inkling to explore a region formerly left only to professional astronauts and want to blast off into space, Virgin Galactic may be the company to help you make your dream come true. For "just" $250,000, you can secure your seat on a future space expedition. You can choose from multiple reservation options, including a spaceship charter or the designation of Pioneer Astronaut. You may be able to complete G-force training and visit any one of Sir Richard Branson’s private getaways in the Caribbean, South Africa or the Swiss Alps.
In 2014, Sir Richard Branson and his children, Holly and Sam, will blast off into space in the first commercial space flight. The exact date has not yet been announced, but on Nov. 3, Virgin Galactic and NBC Universal inked a promotional deal that gives the network broadcast rights for the first commercial space flight of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo. The Bransons’ journey will be televised on multiple networks affiliated with NBC Universal, including MSNBC, SyFy and The Weather Channel. The Today Show will feature a 3-hour live event on the day of the launch, and NBC will air a primetime special the night before.
Six months after Branson’s flight, Virgin Galactic is rumored to have scheduled a flight that will see music superstar Lady Gaga perform a single song in zero gravity before returning to earth.
In 2004, Sir Richard Branson and Burt Rutan announced that through Virgin Galactic, they expected to offer space tourism flights by 2006 or 2007, although it took several years longer to make that vision a reality. In 2005, the company and the State of New Mexico signed an agreement that allowed Virgin Galactic to build a spaceport there, from which they will launch their flights.
Two years later, Virgin Galactic and NASA announced an agreement to explore and develop future space travel technology. In 2009, the company launched the Virgin Mothership (VMS) Eve, which had a successful 2 ½ hour test flight, the longest successful flight at that time. Over the past nine years, Virgin Galactic has signed up at least 500 individuals to take a flight into space, including celebrities like Ashton Kutcher.
The company has plans to launch from a variety of locations, depending on the specifications of each flight. The company expects to offer flights for researchers in corporate America, academia, science or engineering or even teachers and students; they also expect to offer payload flights, which carry up to 1300 pounds of gear.
A flight test engineer will monitor the payloads as necessary. If you’re interested in space travel as a tourist, check out Virgin Galactic’s web site for further information.
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