Virgin Galactic spacecraft  in flight

Virgin Galactic Looks To Start Space Tourism in 2012

Richard Branson, daredevil, businessman, and entrepreneur, started Virgin Galactic in order to attempt to take advantage of the X Prize, which would have awarded $10 million to the first company that could make space tourism a reality instead of a fantasy. Now the Russians have been sending people up into space for a few years now, but at $30 million per trip and a six month commitment required to make that happen, for most people, space tourism can never become a reality.

Virgin Galactic Hopes To Offer a “Low Cost” Alternative

Branson has stated that they hope to have a low cost space tourism alternative ready by the end of 2012 so that passengers may start taking advantage of this great new industry. How low cost? Tickets have been selling regularly at $200,000, and over 400 people have already purchased their tickets to reserve one of the first space tourism flights. This has allowed Virgin Galactic to recoup over $50 million of the $350 million they have invested so far in this project, but considering almost 85,000 people have stated they would purchase tickets when available, the profits look to be coming in soon.

What Would You Get With a Ticket?

Virgin Galactic plans on taking their craft up to a height of 120 km above the surface of the Earth. This would allow tourists the ability to potentially view the blackness of space above, the Earth below, and weightlessness for about five minutes or so. With large windows allowing for spectacular views, tourists on the initial space flights will be able to see 1,000 miles in any direction on the planet below.

Though $200,000 per ticket certainly puts space tourism out of reach for the average person still, it is a step in the right direction to unlocking the final frontier for everyone to be able to experience space at least once in their lives. When that happens, we’ll be able to thank Branson and Virgin Galactic for making that happen.

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