Richard Branson reveals he and his children will be among first passengers on Virgin Galactic’s first flight into space
Sir Richard Branson has announced today that he and his children will be among the first passengers when the Virgin Galactic space tourism programme begins.
• First flight will leave from a spaceport built in New Mexico
• Launch vehichle ‘LauncherOne’ will take small satellites into space
• 529 people have signed up for the £130,000 trips, more than those have gone into space since Yuri Gagarin’s first trip in 1961
Virgin boss Sir Richard and son Sam and daughter Holly are expected to be flying 60 miles up into space on the SpaceShipTwo (SS2) aircraft by the end of next year.
From a spaceport in New Mexico, USA, WhiteKnightTwo will take the SS2, with six passengers and two pilots, to a point about 50,000ft (15,240m) up before the SS2 rockets into space.
Sir Richard and other passengers will be able to float around the cabin due to weightlessness before the SS2 effectively becomes a glider for its return to the spaceport.
Virgin Galactic announced today at an airfield in Farnborough that a total of 529 people - including, it is believed, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie - have signed up for an SS2 trip.
This number now outstrips the 528 who have gone into space since Yuri Gagarin’s first trip in 1961.
“Next year Holly and Sam will be joining me for a first voyage into space,” Sir Richard said.
He went on: “Going into space is a hard business. It keeps my mind buzzing.”
As the travellers and Sir Richard posed at Farnborough Air Show beside a replica of SS2, Sir Richard also announced that the WhiteKnightTwo aircraft that will help launch SS2 into space will also be used for a new launch vehicle - LauncherOne - which will take small satellites into space for around a tenth of the present cost.
The Virgin Galactic team said a number of companies were keen to use LauncherOne.
LauncherOne is expected to begin operations in 2016 and can carry up to 500lb of weight.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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