If you’re familiar with how houses and large buildings are built, you’ll know how tricky it is to secure planning permission to make your dream project come true. That’s just what Virgin Galactic, the first commercial space flight airline, have accomplished just recently, securing the rights to plan the world’s first space tourism flights.
The company, headed by entrepreneur Richard Branson, have been testing the two-part spacecraft which will one day take tourists to around 70,000 feet above the earth’s surface, just enough to see space first hand. The craft consists of a pair of airplanes, joined at the wing tips, with a smaller rocket-powered craft slung underneath this conjoined wing. The smaller craft detaches and heads for the outer atmosphere once the parent craft brings it up to a high enough altitude.
Virgin Galactic have now secured permission from the US Federal Air Administration to begin setting specific guidelines and plans in motion before the actual launches begin. It may be a long while before they do, but Branson is confident, saying he and his family will be amongst the first to travel aboard the craft once everything is ironed out. WHilst the agreement with the FAA doesn’t give them permission to begin launches, it is another step on the way to finishing the project.
Virgin Galactic will now be able to operate just like a normal commercial airline, and will be included in the United States National Airspace system, meaning that all that is realistically left to do for Virgin is to make sure the craft pass the strict testing and safety procedures required by law to enter space commercially. Of course they will also need to find someone willing to insure the craft and those aboard it too, in case anything goes wrong.
Six hundred people have already booked their flight into space, with Virgin seeing a massive profit even before the project has begun. Maybe one day you won’t need to be super-rich to enjoy the service too… who knows.