The company has announced that it has received a license from the Federal Aviation Administration for short, paid commercial space voyages with its rocket.
British entrepreneur Richard Branson's suborbital spaceflight company Virgin Galactic has received a license to fly customers, for a fee, to the edge of space with its rocket. The approval was granted June 25 by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and updates an earlier green light that had allowed the company to conduct only test flights. Waiting to take a ride up to a height of 90 kilometers, to experience weightlessness and see the curvature of the Earth, there would already be about 600 people.
Virgin Galactic's commercial space flights
The would-be "astronauts" waiting to leave for space are all customers who would have already paid the deposit and are mostly super rich people who also include movie and music stars. Virgin Galactic will launch them on its rocket from a dedicated spaceport in the New Mexico desert in America. The license came after excellent results from the test flight conducted on May 22.
"The flight was conducted flawlessly and the results demonstrate the safety and elegance of our flight system. The FAA approval," said Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic, "gives us confidence as we move forward with the first fully manned test flight" this summer.
Four company employees, along with two pilots, will board the Unity rocket to get a sense of what the experience might be like for future ticketed passengers. Most likely, Richard Branson will also be on the next flight.
With one more launch, then, the company will start earning money from carrying people, although the next mission has been booked as a mission block by the Italian Air Force, which wants to bring several specialists aboard Unity to perform some microgravity experiments. Sir Richard Branson's flight is speculated to take place on July 4, in order to earn the first astronaut title among superbillionaires interested in space, such as Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.
The founder of Amazon and the private space agency Blue Origin, Jeff Bezon, is preparing to go into orbit on July 20 with his brother and a third person who bought at auction the ticket for the trip between the stars.