Richard Branson to organize private astronaut trips
The cosmos has long fascinated people's imagination. Many leading tech companies are now developing a spacecraft to go beyond the planet Earth. In recent times, Tesla, the US company led by Elon Musk, has accomplished astonishing results in this field. However, its competitors are literally stepping on its toes. For instance, billionaire Richard Branson also wants to explore the vast cosmos. Reportedly, his company, Virgin Galactic Holdings, is now actively working on the program of tourist trips in outer space.
Just a few days ago, Branson announced the successful conclusion of negotiations with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The parties stroke a new Space Act Agreement on the development of a program to promote private flights to the International Space Station. It means that Branson is closer now than anybody else to the aim of launching space tourism. Moreover, within the framework of the agreement, Virgin Galactic will be responsible for finding organizations that will conduct private flights, developing training programs, and solving transportation issues on the ISS and on Earth. In the near future, the company is planning to establish regular spaceflights. "This is not just for potentially private space travelers, but could also be for researchers or even government researchers," George Whitesides, Virgin Galactic’s CEO, said.
In the spring of 2020, the company successfully completed the first test flight of the VSS Unity spacecraft. Thus, up to six passengers will soon be able to embark on their first outer space journey. During the flight, passengers will be able to see see the Earth from a height of 100 km and experience a state of weightlessness for a few minutes. It will cost about $250,000 per ticket. Remarkably, more than 600 space tourists have already reserved places to fly on VSS Unity.