Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic completed its first rocket-powered test flight since 2014. The new SpaceShipTwo craft, named VSS Unity, successfully deployed a smaller craft 10 miles above the earth’s surface. The test brings the firm a big step closer to its ultimate goal of taking tourists to space.
Virgin Galactic plans to fly paying space tourists into the micro gravity environment of space to enjoy stunning views of the Earth, reusing the same spacecraft again and again. However, they will need to reach space several more times before they can send tourists there.
Virgin Galactic’s launch platform, the SpaceShipTwo, is essentially two planes attached to one another, with the smaller VSS Unity underneath. Once the carrier reaches high enough altitude and speed, it releases the Unity, which can then travel at 3,000 mph to the lower reaches of space.
Eventually, Virgin hopes to send tourists on two-hour flights that provide views of Earth previously only seen by astronauts, plus about four minutes of weightlessness. Tickets cost $250,000, and the 700-person waiting list includes celebrities like Katy Perry and Tom Hanks.