Virgin Galactic has offered the most detailed look yet at its space tourism flight experience.
In a dramatic four-minute video released on Sunday, August 15, the company led by billionaire businessman Richard Branson showed off what passengers on its six-seat Unity spaceplane will experience when its space tourism service launches in 2022.
Blending animation with footage captured from recent flights, the video takes us through the various stages of the flight, including take-off, release from the carrier aircraft at 50,000 feet, the rocket ride to the edge of space, the views of Earth and short period of weightlessness at around 282,000 feet, and the flight back to base. The ride from take-off to touchdown lasts around one hour.
Around 600 people are already in line to take the space tourism trip after forking out $250,000 for a seat during the first phase of ticket sales several years ago. Earlier this month, the company announced that from hereon in, those wanting to experience Virgin Galactic’s space tourism service will have to pay $450,000 for a seat. Besides rich folk, the flights will also carry researchers keen to conduct experiments in microgravity conditions that last only a few minutes.
The release of Virgin Galactic’s video comes just over a month after Branson took part in the first fully crewed Unity flight that also offered a glimpse at what paying passengers can expect. He later described the experience as “just magical.”
Virgin Galactic isn’t the only one prepping the launch of a space tourism service. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos recently flew to the edge of space aboard a sub-orbital New Shepard rocket operated by his Blue Origin spaceflight company ahead of a commercial service that could start offering trips next year.
And SpaceX, led by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, is planning more sophisticated orbital tourism flights, with the first one set to launch aboard a Falcon 9 rocket next month.
While some have criticized the recent endeavors of Branson and Bezos as a big waste of money, both are adamant that their proposed space tourism services will help to create new industries, advance science, and inspire a new generation of scientists and researchers.