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The views from the new space craft SpaceShipTwo are not the only spectacular aspect, so too is the price: Tickets can be had for 200,000 US dollars.
With his new company Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson remains loyal to his philosophy that “Business should be fun”. That must be the reason why he repeatedly seeks new challenges and dares to venture into new countries and/or space. The clientele he targets has already followed, for according to Branson over 200 private individuals have already remitted the full fare for the flight, while many more would-be space tourists have indicated interest. They will need to undergo a health check and training in a centrifuge before the excursion into the ether.
In January 2008, Virgin Galactic was already presenting a model of its new SpaceShipTwo spaceship to the public in New York. With two pilots and up to six passengers on board, the 18-meter long carbon structure should be taking off from 2009 onwards. Initially taken aloft by the WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft, the spaceship is then detached for its rocket-propelled start into space. Safety is paramount, emphasized Branson. Yet thought has also been given to the environment, with the use of bio-fuel already announced at the launch.
Virgin Galactic headquarters and also the starting point for the excursions into space are located at Spaceport America in Las Cruce, New Mexico. Designed by star architect Sir Norman Foster, this spaceport should be housing up to five spaceships and two carrier aircraft.
Like their predecessors SpaceShipOne and WhiteKnight, the new spaceship and carrier aircraft are being designed and built by the US aircraft designer Burt Rutan. He it was who with his Team Scaled Composites in 2004 also won the Ansari X-Prize – endowed with ten million US dollars – for the first space flight by a privately built spaceship.