Virgin Galactic – Commercial Space Flight
Whoever said “sky is the limit”, was clearly not dreaming big enough as proved by this tremendous pillar of space tourism. The idea was planted in man’s mind when the historic Apollo 11 rocket took Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin and to the moon inJune, 1969. He immediately grew an obsession to explore space up to a depth which was previously thought inexistent. He then sent the satellite, “voyager” which has now already crossed the boundary of our solar system (entered the oort cloud) late last year, after 35 years of journey. Since then, few people have gone into space to attain the privilege of being called “Astronaut”. To become an astronaut, one has to have outstanding credentials, tons of experienceand rigorous training to adapt to extreme conditions in space. Odysee
When we watch videos of space shuttle launches and the astonishing views of the earth from space, we always dream of ourselves beingin such a place, a place where we feel bigger than the earth, and all the extravagant images that the deep dark space has to offer us. Each and every one of us has at least once in our childhood dreamed of being an astronaut. This dream was first out of reach for purposes of tourism. Later space tourism was given a price of $25 million which was made by a former Microsoft executive, Charles Simonyi to go along with two other astronauts.Sir Richard Branson, self-made billionaire and CEO of the Virgin group of companies, saw a business opportunity in making that dream affordable.
Sir Richard Branson and Burt Rutan have partnered to form the company, Virgin Galactic which aims to commercialize space travel, booking for which started at a price of 200,000$ in 2004 and is currently 250,000$ (around Rs.1.5crore). Clearly, it is not cheap, but it is much more economical than the $25 million (today around Rs.150crores) which was paid earlier by space tourists. Co-Founder, Burt Rutan is the brains behind the design of concept of the operating spacecraft of Virgin Galactic. His design, Spaceship One (SS1) won the Ansari X prize in 2004 and also the founder of the company, Scaled Composites. Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites combined to form “The Spaceship Company” (TSC).
Tiers of Passengers:
1. Founders: First 100 passengers, price: $200,000.
2. Pioneers: Passengers flying in the first year of operations will pay anywhere between $100,000 and $175,000.
3. Voyagers: Later passengers will pay a lot less once operations increase.