Virgin Galactic is a pioneering space venture
firm that is in intense preparation for the first ever 2-1/2
hour suborbital flight aboard an 8-seater spacecraft that
will ferry tourists into outer space.
Virgin Galactic is conglomerate of the Virgin Group of companies
owned by flamboyant British businessman Sir Richard Branson.
So far, Virgin Galactic has recruited around 200 people to
be part of its inaugural flight which will blast off at the
Mojave Desert Spaceport in California sometime in 2011. But,
the flight does not come cheap. The quick jaunt into space
beyond the earth's atmosphere and in zero
gravity weightlessness will be available to passengers
or space tourists at around $200,000.
The initial group of Virgin Galactic space tourists that
have booked a firm reservation includes actress and skin-care
entrepreneur Victoria Principal who at 57 is excited about
the color of her space suit, Hollywood film director Brian
Singer and Soviet emigrant Lina Borozdina-Birch who took a
second mortgage of her house just to be on the trip. Also
booked are husband and wife team of George and Loretta Whitesides,
who wants to spend their honeymoon on a space vehicle. And,
other space junkies, actors, real estate magnates, CEO's and
rich adventurers who can afford the staggering fee have also
put up a down payment for an otherworldly trip.
Space tourists who will be part of the Virgin Galactic commercial
operations will undergo a series of preparatory tests and
weightlessness exercises to acquaint them with the conditions
aboard the space vehicle during the flight. In the pre-flight
briefing, space tourists will have the opportunity to ask
relevant questions and participate in discussions about the
flight itself to keep passengers fully involved and well-informed.
The space flight will be an experience of a lifetime and
the space cabin is fully equipped to savor every second of
the trip that promises to be intense, wonderful and truly
unforgettable. The main objective of Virgin Galactic is to
provide a safe, comfortable and enjoyable experience until
you bid adieu to the spaceport. Each passenger will have a
fully documented record of the whole trip and of course his
or her astronaut wings.
The Virgin Galactic spacecraft built by Scaled
Composites will be strapped to the underbelly of a specially
designed jet carrier. At 50,000 feet while still airborne,
the spacecraft will be released to continue the journey on
its own. As the built-in power surges ahead, passengers are
instantly pinned on their seats with acceleration reaching
3,000mph (4 times the speed of sound). Once the spacecraft
stabilizes, passengers can view the cobalt blue sky through
the large windows, as it changes from hue to mauve, then indigo
and finally to black.
And then the senses take over. The silence of space is expected
to be deafening and immediately one would surely feel that
gravity governing life on earth is no longer present in space.
Passengers will see themselves finally floating and the experience
with Virgin Galactic will be truly exhilarating. Most likely,
they will see an image of the earth that's familiar only with
textbooks, photos and recently over the Internet.
Here's a likely scenario. Once the reality of gazing at planet
Earth in all its serenity strikes, the passenger immediately
feels at home as a flood of emotions engulf the senses to
make them want to cry; or maybe laugh. After a while, the
pilot would then ask every passenger to buckle down for the
return trip to Earth.
Virgin Galactic has a base in the Mojave Desert in California.
The company is also building its "Spaceport America"
in New Mexico with the help of Foster Partners and URS team
as the world's first commercial spaceport.