Where is Virgin Galactic launching from?
Virgin Galactic's flights launch from Spaceport America, along a desolate stretch of desert in New Mexico. The company's SpaceShipTwo Unity craft is designed to take off on a conventional runway while attached to the underbelly of a carrier ship known as WhiteKnightTwo. NBC NewsVirgin Galactic's rocket reaches edge of space with Richard Branson on board
What time does Branson launch today?
Branson's trip began in dramatic fashion as Virgin's twin-fuselage carrier jet — with the VSS Unity rocket-powered spaceplane bolted under its wing — lifted away from the company's Spaceport America launch site near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, at 8:40 a.m. local time (10:40 a.m. EDT). CBS NewsRichard Branson and Virgin Galactic complete successful space flight
Has Branson launched?
On July 11, Virgin Galactic made a giant leap toward commercial suborbital spaceflight. The company launched its first fully crewed flight of its SpaceShipTwo space plane Unity with a special passenger on board: the company's billionaire founder Richard Branson. Space.comVirgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Unity 22 launch with Richard Branson. See video and photos of the flight.
How high did Virgin Galactic fly?
Today's Virgin Galactic flight reached 282,773 feet (about 53.5 miles or 86 kilometers). National GeographicWhat Virgin Galactic's milestone flight means for the future of tourists in space
Virgin Galactic will partner with a charity fundraising platform to offer the out-of-this-world opportunity.
You can enter the contest here; payment is not necessary to participate. In a pre-recorded video released by Virgin Galactic on Sunday, Branson detailed how he had "the most incredible experience of Earth from above" and that he is "thrilled" to give the opportunity to others.
"You'll be flown out to meet me for a private tour of Spaceport America, where we'll prepare you to be among the first to experience a Virgin Galactic spaceflight," Branson explained. Spaceport America is the liftoff and landing zone of VSS Unity, about 55 miles (88 kilometers) from Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Based on Branson's experience, you'll experience about four minutes of weightlessness aboard VSS Unity, which lifts off beneath the wings of the carrier plane VMS Eve and achieves a peak altitude above 50 miles (80 km). That's below the traditionally defined Kármán line, which lies 62 miles (100 km) up, but above the space demarcation boundary recognized by NASA, the U.S. military and the Federal Aviation Administration.
Eligible participants for the new contest must meet numerous conditions on the Omaze website, with some of the main ones including being at least 18 years of age, coming from a worldwide jurisdiction not prohibited from participation and providing proof of a coronavirus vaccination.
In a reminder that spaceflight is inherently dangerous, any participants must also release the contest-holders from "all liability, loss or damage or expense arising out of, or in connection with, participation in any experience or the acceptance, use or misuse of any prizes."
Between now and Aug. 31, all funds raised will go to the nonprofit Space for Humanity organization, which seeks to democratize access to space. Its advisors include Andrew Aldrin, director of the Aldrin Space Institute at the Florida Institute of Technology, and son of Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, along with Alan Stern, a scientist best known for being principal investigator of the New Horizons mission to Pluto and other Kuiper Belt destinations.
Virgin Galactic has been aiming to bring tourists into space since its foundation in 2004, and seats for space have sold, most recently, for $250,000 each. Today's suborbital spaceflight of Branson, and the planned July 20 jaunt of fellow billionaire and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, alongside an apparent competition between the two companies for deep-pocketed customer attention, have prompted some public discussion about how to increase tourist access to space among people who cannot afford such large sums.
That said, a selection of lucky people of ordinary means have been invited to take part in tourist spaceflights so far. Mercury 13 aviator Wally Funk will fly alongside Bezos and other passengers on July 20, while two contest winners and a childhood cancer survivor will fly with billionaire Jared Isaacman on the Inspiration4 mission to Earth orbit that will launch later this year aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.
Employees of spacefaring companies may also get chances to see space, such as the three Virgin Galactic workers who flew alongside Branson on Sunday, or those entities who partner with Axiom Space, which will send its first all-private spaceflight to the International Space Station in 2022 on a Crew Dragon, if all goes to plan.
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11 July, 2021 - 08:18pm