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Virgin Galactic test flight could usher in new era in space tourism

13 December 2018

A Virgin Galactic spacecraft is scheduled to launch from California's Mojave Air and Space Port about 90 miles  outside Los Angeles on Thursday in a test flight. if the test is successful, that could help usher in a new era of space tourism. The spaceship which looks like a small plane with long wings will attempt to take the company's pilots for the first time ever, Virgin Galactic CEO told Reuters on December 12.The high-altitude launch comes four years after an earlier craft crashed during a test flight over the Mohave dessert on October 31, 2014, killing one pilot and injuring the other. U.S. transportation safety investigators at the time said that the passenger spaceship most likely broke up in mid-flight.

VIRGIN GALACTIC CEO, GEORGE WHITESIDES said "The probably two things that are special. One is that for our company, if we have a very good day, we could potentially have the first space flight into space of Virgin Galactic. So that would be a big milestone from our personal company. And then on a national level, I think this would be the first human spaceflight from American soil into space since the retirement of the US space shuttle." "Really what we see is that so many of our problems and challenges today are planetary in scope and global in scope. And I think having people go outside of the planet for a short period of time and looking down at the planet, what you hear from astronauts is that when you do that you get a fundamentally different perspective on life and our planet. And we think sharing that with more and more people is really important to the future of solving these big challenges."

Some 600 people including Hollywood celebrities have signed up to take the first tourism flights into space with Virgin in exchange for the hefty price tag of $250,000 for a 90-minute flight.