Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson is now officially a space tourist.
The flight was the 22nd test flight of VSS Unity and the first test flight with a full crew in the cabin, including Sir Richard Branson.
The crew were checking the cabin for customer experience, including evaluating the commercial customer cabin, the views of Earth from space, the conditions for conducting research and the effectiveness of the five-day pre-flight training program at Spaceport America.
Sir Richard Branson said:
“I have dreamt about this moment since I was a child, but nothing could have prepared me for the view of Earth from space. We are at the vanguard of a new space age. As Virgin’s founder, I was honoured to test the incredible customer experience as part of this remarkable crew of mission specialists and now astronauts. I can’t wait to share this experience with aspiring astronauts around the world.”
“Our mission is to make space more accessible to all. In that spirit, and with today’s successful flight of VSS Unity, I’m thrilled to announce a partnership with Omaze and Space for Humanity to inspire the next generation of dreamers. For so long, we have looked back in wonder at the space pioneers of yesterday. Now, I want the astronauts of tomorrow to look forward and make their own dreams come true.”
Virgin plans one more test flight before starting a commercial space tourism service. The company already has a long waiting list to ride aboard SpaceShipTwo each paying around $250,000 apiece. The fare includes preflight training, mission planning, life support, medical support, crew provisions, and eight days aboard the ISS.
Michael Colglazier, Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Galactic, said:
“Today is a landmark achievement for the Company and a historic moment for the new commercial space industry. With each successful mission, we are paving the way for the next generation of astronauts. I want to thank our talented team, including our pilots and crew, whose dedication and commitment made today possible. They are helping open the door for greater access to space – so it can be for the many and not just for the few.”