Anyone can be an astronaut, quite literally anyone. Virgin Galactic has opened the doors for hundreds, and soon thousands, of people from around the world to travel into space. With its maiden flight scheduled for next year, the world’s first commercial spaceline, Virgin Galactic has received deposits for 529 passengers. The suborbital flights would begin as early as 2016 aboard the SpaceShipTwo.
Far-fetched? Not so, all the major components necessary for powered flight, including its rocket system, have been approved. The powerful rocket expected to take SpaceShipTwo into orbit has been named WhiteKnightTwo. Before SpaceShipTwo will head into space, LauncherOne will have the honor of going to space first. Able to hold up to 500 pounds, LauncherOne will be able to launch into orbit for under $10 million. The flexibility of air launch will allow Virgin Galactic to launch their spaceliners from virtually anywhere.
Along with Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, four companies have been recognized as being involved with LauncherOne’s first flight. SkyBox Imaging, GeoOpics Inc., Spaceflight Inc., and Planetary Resources Inc. These companies range from constellation imagery to asteroid mining. Unlike SpaceShipTwo, LauncherOne’s primary purpose is satellite launching.
Looking for a good vacation in 2016? SpaceShipTwo might be it.