Virgin Galactic takes its first tourists into space

Virgin Galactic takes its first tourists into space

Some promise, some outstanding: US company Virgin Galactic took its first tourists into space on Thursday. According to the company, the three passengers — John Goodwin, 80, Keisha Schaaf, 46, and their daughter Anastacia Meyers, 18 — spent a few minutes in space, where they were able to admire the curvature of the Earth and briefly float in weightlessness. Were. video broadcast. He was accompanied on board the VSS Unity ship by a Virgin Galactic employee responsible for his supervision and two pilots.

The mission, named Galactic 02, is the company’s second commercial flight after the first flight in late June. It carried senior Italian Air Force officers who had conducted numerous experiments on board, not civilians who were traveling purely for pleasure. Earlier, the company had carried out several test flights including Richard Branson in July 2021. Overall, Thursday is the seventh time the spacecraft has been in space.

A giant carrier aircraft took off from a conventional runway in New Mexico for the first time. After a period of ascent, they take off from the ship, which resembles a large private jet. It then fired its engines and accelerated vertically until it exceeded an altitude of 80 km, which according to the US military was the limit for a space launch. A commentator announced during the live video that the spacecraft reached an altitude of 88 km at its peak. It then began a steep descent, sliding rapidly before landing on the same runway.

800 customers on waiting list

Keisha Schaaf and her daughter, Anastacia Meyers, are both from Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean, and won their tickets by participating in a fundraiser organized by Virgin Galactic. Keisha Schaaf was told the good news in person by Richard Branson, who surprised her at her home with his astronaut suit. He was back in Antigua and Barbuda on Thursday to watch the flight with his family, he said, posting a picture on social media in which he is seen with Keisha Schaaf’s mother.

The third passenger, Briton John Goodwin, participated in the Olympic Games in 1972. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2014, he will be the second person in space with the disease. However, at 80, he will not be the oldest: that record is held by William Shatner, who was 90 during his trip. Fewer than 700 people have been in space so far, according to Virgin Galactic, which now promises one space flight per month. About 800 customers initially purchased their tickets at a price between $200,000 and $250,000 per passenger, which was later increased to $450,000.

Virgin Galactic’s space program is running years behind schedule, partly because of a 2014 accident that killed a pilot.

Virgin Galactic competes with billionaire Jeff Bezos’ company, Blue Origin, which also offers short suborbital flights, and has already sent 31 people into space. But after an accident during an unmanned flight in September 2022, its rocket has been stopped. Blue Origin promised to resume in March “soon” his space flights.

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