In addition to a mother-daughter pair from the Caribbean and a former British Olympian who purchased his ticket 18 years ago, Virgin Galactic is now taking its first space passengers on a long-delayed rocket ship voyage.
The rocket-powered aircraft was launched into the air early on Thursday from Spaceport America in the desert of New Mexico.
The plane was supposed to be released approximately an hour later and launch its rocket to the edge of space, according to the flight plan. If everything goes according to plan, Richard Branson’s company will start providing monthly rides to clients on its winged spacecraft, joining Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin in the space tourism industry.
Jon Goodwin, a customer of Virgin Galactic who was among the first to purchase a ticket in 2005, expressed confidence that he would eventually take the flight.
Parkinson’s illness affects the 80-year-old athlete who participated in canoeing in the 1972 Olympics and wants to inspire others. In a statement, he stated, “I hope it shows them that these challenges can be the start rather than the end to new adventures.” When Goodwin signed up, tickets cost $200,000. Now, the price is $450,000.
Seven trips to space have been made by Virgin Galactic since 2018, but this will be the first with a ticket holder. In 2021, the company’s creator, Richard Branson, climbed aboard for the first full-size crew ride. On the first commercial flight, military and government researchers from Italy took to the skies in June. According to the business, there are currently 800 people on the Virgin Galactic waiting list.
Two pilots are required for Virgin Galactic’s rocket ship, which takes off from an airplane’s belly rather than the ground.
The spacecraft is freed and ignites its rocket motor to make the last ascent to just over 50 miles (80 kilometers) altitude once the mothership has ascended to around 50,000 feet (10 miles or 15 kilometers).
Before the spacecraft returns to Earth and touches down on a runway, passengers can unbuckle from their chairs, float around the cabin for a while, and take in the expansive vistas of the planet.