Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space tourism initiative officially launched in May this year and Branson has announced an approximate liftoff date while at the Farnborough Airshow in London. Virgin Galactic’s first commercial voyage is set to take place next year and Branson will be on board SpaceShipTwo when it does, along with his two adult children.
“Next year, Holly and Sam will be joining me for a first voyage into space. Going into space is a hard business. It keeps my mind buzzing.”
Virgin says that there are, at present, 529 paid-up passengers for SpaceShipTwo who will be making the two and a half hour round trip into space.
Also announced was LauncherOne, a new launch craft that is expected to begin operations from 2016. LauncherOne is designed to be a cost-efficient method of taking small satellites (up to about 227kg) into space and several companies are reportedly interested in its services. According to Branson, “It will be a critical new tool for the global research community, enabling us all to learn about our home planet more quickly and affordably.”