We have talked about how Elon Musk (SpaceX) and Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin) are developing the area of space tourism. Today we are going to talk about one of the other big efforts in this space: Virgin Galactic, started by Sir Richard Branson.
Richard Branson started the Virgin group of companies almost 50 years ago. He started with music and then expanded into other areas, including the airline space (Virgin Atlantic), health, books, and now, into space, with Virgin Galactic.
What does ‘virgin’ mean? It is used to introduce something that has not been explored before.
So is Virgin Galactic’s approach to getting tourists to space different to what we have already heard about with SpaceX and Blue Origin?
Yes! SpaceX and Blue Origin are developing rockets that will take people on a spaceship into orbit or to Mars (SpaceX) or on sub-orbital flights into space (Blue Origin). Virgin Galactic is developing a spaceplane called the WhiteKnightTwo, that carries a spaceship 50,000 feet above the earth. There will be 6 tourists in the spaceship that is called SpaceShipTwo. SpaceShipTwo will be released by the WhiteKnightTwo at 50,000 feet, at which point its rocket will push it into space. This will let the tourists have some fun with weightlessness and will then bring them back to earth.
How much will a ticket on Virgin Galactic cost? They say $250,000 per ticket! News reports say that more than 700 people have bought tickets already.
When will Virgin Galactic get tourists into space? They hope to do so in 2018.
Watch this video to see what they think it will look like!