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Virgin Galactic seeks first 1,000 passengers for ‘space flight’

Passengers will be able to experience micro gravity at an altitude of 80km and witness the curvature of the Earth from the craft’s windows

Anthony Cuthbertson
Wednesday 16 February 2022 14:22 GMT
Tickets for Virgin Galactic’s flights will cost $450,000, requiring a deposit of $150,000
Tickets for Virgin Galactic’s flights will cost $450,000, requiring a deposit of $150,000 (Virgin Galactic)

Virgin Galactic has opened ticket sales to the public for the first time, offering rides to the edge of space for $450,000.

Richard Branson’s space tourism company is selling 1,000 tickets for a 90-minute ride aboard its VSS Unity, taking off from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

“We plan to have our first 1,000 customers on board at the start of commercial service later this year, providing an incredibly strong foundation as we begin regular operations and scale our fleet,” said Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier.

Passengers will be able to experience micro gravity 80km (50 miles) above ground-level and witness the curvature of the Earth from the craft’s windows.

“You’ll see the colour out the window change from blue, through indigo and into an inky black, signalling your arrival in space,” Virgin Galactic’s site states.

“At this point, you’ll gently unbuckle and float effortlessly out of your seat in micro-gravity. The cabin is designed for your enjoyment, including 17 windows for the breathtaking views of Earth.”

The company’s share price sky rocketed 32 per cent following the announcement on Tuesday, with tickets going on sale on Wednesday through Virgin Galactic’s website.

Virgin Galactic refers to its passengers as “astronauts”, – going as far as to present them with ‘Astronaut Wings’ at a post-trip ceremony – though this definition has been disputed by space agencies.

The Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) officially recognises the edge of space as beginning at the Karman Line, 100km above the Earth’s surface.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also updated its official definition ‘astronaut’ last year, stating that the term must refer to members of a crew that “demonstrated activities during flight that were essential to public safety, or contributed to human space flight safety.

The FAA update meant Branson and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos both fail to earn that recognition, despite taking trips aboard their high-altitude vehicles in 2021.


The rhetoric used in promotional materials for Virgin Galactic has also been criticised, with the company referring to its passengers’ “pioneering spirit” and claim that their trip will “inspire others”.

The exorbitant price – a $150,000 deposit is required just to book a place aboard – means space remains inaccessible to the vast majority of aspiring space tourists.

Sir Branson attempted to address such concerns last year, claiming that critics are “not fully educated as to what space does for Earth”.

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