Ever wanted to travel to space, or to some nearby planet? Interplanetary travel may still be a century away for the average human, but travelling to space just may come true for you in 2-5 years if Sir Richard Branson has his way.
On 27 Monday Sep 2004, Sir Richard Branson announced the launch of Virgin Galactic, which aims to fly you out to space - if you have the moolah. The plans for Virgin Galactic are based on the Spaceship One from Scaled Composites, which completed the first journey to space and safely returned in a much-watched flight. Scaled Composites' is funded by Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder.
Virgin Galactic, which will start building its first aircraft, the VSS Enterprise, next year and could blast off from California's Mojave Desert with passengers aboard as soon as 2007. Sir Richard Branson, so typically of his flamboyant lordship, plans to be on the inaugural flight of Virgin Galactic.
After being carried to a height of 50,000ft by a launch aircraft, the Virgin Galactic spaceship will fire its rocket for 90 seconds, accelerating to a speed of 2,500mph. Strapped in, flat on their backs, passengers will accelerate - within 25 seconds - to 2,500mph. For no more than five minutes they will float about, 80 miles above planet Earth. Virgin Galactic passengers will get a 90-minute suborbital flight, reaching just over 62 miles above the planet. From there, the spaceship's passengers will be able to view the curvature of earth and experience weightlessness. And then thank Scaled Composites, Paul Allen, Burt Rutan (the man behind spacehipone) ad Virgin Galactiv for making it all possible.
The rest fo the stuff we have here is culled from numerous sources on the internet. Read on:
Because the cabin will be pressurized, those on board won't need to wear spacesuits. Nor will potential space tourists need NASA-caliber doses of the right stuff: Virgin Galactic will take anyone "reasonably fit" and able to cough up the $200,000 fee and spare a few days for training. Virgin Galactic thinks it can sign up 3,000 customers within its first five years. The price is expected to drop once people take it to it, according to Virgin Galactic.
Mr Branson said he hoped to add a space hotel to his portfolio within his lifetime and even broached the subject of flights to the moon. At the launch of the project at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London, Sir Richard said: "For years I have dreamt of seeing the beauty of our planet from space, experiencing true weightlessness.