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Virgin Galactic is sending its first space tourists and hopes to catch up with Blue Origin and Space X

Virgin Galactic is sending its first space tourists and hopes to catch up with Blue Origin and Space X

Space tourism – This is a new achievement of space tourism. On Thursday, June 29, Virgin Galactic succeeded in its first commercial spaceflight in space, named Galactic 01. On board the VSS Unity rocket plane are two pilots, an agent of the company, and especially its first three customers: two scientists from the Italian Air Force and an engineer from the Italian National Council for research.

Having taken off from Spaceport America, in the New Mexico desert, in the southwestern United States. As you can see in the video at the top of the articleWhen the ship passed the 80 km altitude which is usually considered the “limit” of the atmosphere, the passengers raised the Italian flag in the capsule. The suborbital flight lasted about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

In addition to the tourism aspect, the company – created by the founder of the group in 2004 Virgo Richard Branson – Explains that his travels have a scientific dimension. Hence the presence of engineers and researchers who will specifically study the behavior of fluids in a state of weightlessness and the physical reaction of passengers.

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Success to put it in perspective

But this success for Virgin Galactic comes with a significant delay compared to its competitors. Indeed, if space tourism remains an activity reserved for the wealthy, it remains a more than twenty-year-old practice. Above all, private companies like Blue Origin, by Jeff Bezos, or Space X by Elon Musk, have already started riding the wave of tourism flights since 2021.

Virgin Galactic also planned its first cruise flights for 2021. But after derailing a test flight in 2021, where Richard Branson himself was, the company backed off. After two fatal accidents following airliner explosions in 2007 and 2014, safety was essential. But on May 25, 2023, the company finally reached the end of its test flights, allowing it to make this first commercial flight on Thursday, June 29.

Now on its way, Virgin Galactic plans a second science-themed flight in August, Galactic 02. Then the company promises one flight per month from September. Eight hundred passengers have already bought their place at US$450,000 each. In parallel, the company is developing the future Delta spacecraft, with the goal of being able to fly it at least once a week. A very ambitious program…

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