Virgin Galactic’s $450,000 Civilian Spaceflight Showcased In New Video
Virgin Galactic’s ultra-expensive spaceflights feature a 50,000-foot launch and acceleration to 3.5-times the speed of sound.
As Virgin Galactic prepares to offer civilian spaceflight tickets for an astronomical $450,000 per person, British billionaire Sir Richard Branson’s company has released video showing what each trip entails.
Instead of engaging in a violent vertical rocket launch, Virgin Galactic’s spaceship is first brought to 50,000 feet via a mothership, which takes off smoothly from a runway like a conventional passenger jet.
At launch altitude, the the spaceship detaches and a rocket motor propels it to 3.5 times the speed of sound towards the stars. When extraterrestrial altitude is reached, passengers can then unbuckle their seatbelts to experience the weightlessness of microgravity and behold unparalleled views of Earth from 17 windows.
The return is broken into two phases marked by distinct spacecraft shapes: capsules and winged vehicles. The tail booms are folded into an upright position for the first part of reentry, putting the capsule-shaped craft in an appropriate aerodynamic orientation while allowing friction heat is spread along its underside.
As the Earth’s atmosphere thickens with descent, the tail booms come back down from their feather position, allowing the now-winged spaceship to glide back down to its origin runway.
USA Today reports that purchase of each $450,000 ticket requires a $150,000 deposit. There are opportunities to buy a single seat, multi-seats for couples, or even a full-flight buyout, but only 1,000 total tickets are available for flights later this year.
Virgin Galactic adds that launches will originate from Spaceport America in New Mexico. Passengers will undergo “several days of spaceflight preparedness activities, future astronauts will stay with their guests at forthcoming custom accommodations. Guests will enjoy bespoke itineraries and world-class amenities during astronaut-specific training programs.”
Head to Virgin Galactic’s website to learn more.