Virgin Galactic takes a step forward this month in space tourism

Published on : Tuesday, January 16, 2018

space-tourism-frayVirgin Galactic’s successful glide test of its VSS Unity plane on 11th of this month has been a big step forward for the company in developing space tourism against its competitor companies like Blue Origin and SpaceX.

Currently, there are three companies competing to conduct commercial space exploration, namely Richard Branson-owned Virgin Galactic, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX. Of them, the first two mainly focuses on taking tourists to space.

Virgin CEO Richard Branson founded Virgin Galactic in 2004. It later became known for its first SpaceShipTwo, which crashed in a tragic test flight incident in 2014, killing one pilot. The company moved on to create a reusable craft, called VSS Unity, which has successfully completed its seventh glide test last week when it landed in Mojave Desert in California, United States.

So far, more than 700 wealthy customers have booked spots worth US$250,000 per seat on one of the Virgin space journeys, with commercial flights planned for later this year. Celebrities such as Brad Pitt and Katy Perry are among those waiting for the journey to space.

Blue Origin is owned by the world’s wealthiest man and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Established in 2000, the company upholds a motto of Gradatim Ferociter, which is Latin for “Step by step, ferociously.” The company is currently developing a rocket-capsule combo that would take people on trips to suborbital space.

Like Musk, Bezos also wants to reuse rockets to drive down the cost of space travel. For now, Blue Origin is mostly interested in conducting suborbital flights for tourists.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk established SpaceX in 2002 and the company has been taking trips to space to deliver satellites and make resupply missions to the International Space Station for years. SpaceX aims to bring down the cost of spaceflight by reusing rockets. SpaceX’s ultimate goal is to travel to Mars.

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