Virgin Spaceflights by 2007 2004-09-27Posted by clype in Articles of Interest, Gizmo, Money, Science.
British airline magnate Mr.Richard Branson says his company will begin launching paying customers into outer space by 2007 on the world’s first commercial space flights.
The British entrepreneur who established ‘Virgin Atlantic Airways’, Richard Branson, announced plans Monday 2004-09-27 for a commercial space venture, with financial and technical partners from the United States of America.
‘Today is truly an historic day, for I think it will bring the dream of space travel for many millions closer to reality’, Mr.Branson says.
‘Today, I am pleased to launch our new company, “Virgin Galactic”, and to announce our plans to build and launch, within three years, the first of “Virgin’s” fleet of space ships, the “VSS Enterprise”, a spaceship designed to carry fare-paying passengers on a journey to the stars’.
Mr.Branson says the first flights will take off from California’s Mohave Desert and last about two or three hours. There will be five passengers aboard, and each ticket will cost about 200 000 USD.
All the seats, Mr.Branson joked, will be first class. Mr.Branson’s technical partner is Burt Rutan, who built the ‘SpaceShipOne’ craft that in 2004-06 became the first manned commercial vessel to go into outer space.
The project will have financial support from Paul Allen, the billionaire co-founder of ‘Microsoft’, whose company, ‘Mohave Aerospace Ventures’, bankrolled the ‘SpaceShipOne’ venture.
‘SpaceShipOne’ is scheduled for two more launches in quick succession, one on Wednesday 2004-09-29 and another on 2004-10-04, in an attempt to win the 10 million USD ‘Ansari X Prize’.
The award has been offered to the first private three-seat spacecraft to launch twice within two weeks. A single test pilot will fly ‘SpaceShipOne’, but it will be weighted as if three people were aboard.
Mr.Branson says an agreement was signed late Saturday 2006-09-25 with Mr.Allen and Mr.Rutan for ‘Virgin’ to license ‘SpaceShipOne’s’ technology in a deal that could be worth up to 25 million USD over the next 15 years.
The British airline magnate said up to 3 000 passengers could fly to space during the first five years of the project, and he predicts that future ventures will establish a space hotel and a base on the moon for paying customers.