New Mexico to Launch Its First Astronauts to Space This November

Virgin Galactic close to its first crewed test flight from New Mexico 1 photo
Photo: Virgin Galactic
Sometime by the end of this month, New Mexico will join the very short list of American states from where people have launched into space. This is possible thanks to Virgin Galactic and its efforts of making Spaceport America one of the pillars of future space tourism.
Virgin does not say when exactly it plans to conduct the launch, but it does say it should be by the end of this month. Two astronauts, CJ Sturckow and Dave Mackay, will climb into the cabin of the VSS Unity and head out to the edge of space with the goal of both testing the spacecraft some more, and also conduct experiments on behalf of NASA.

The two will become the first people to leave for space from New Mexico soil, but the occasion is a tad more important for Sturckow, who is set to become the first human to have flown to space from three different U.S. states.

This particular flight, the third in the spacecraft’s history, is meant to further test Unity’s capabilities. In the not so distant future, Virgin plans to begin tourist operations, becoming in effect the first entity to use spaceflight for this purpose.

“We anticipate that this upcoming flight will provide some of the data for us to close out our final two verification reports required by the FAA to remove the remaining proviso in our current commercial spaceflight license,” Virgin says in a statement.

There are eight seats inside the spaceship - two are for the pilot and co-pilot, while six others are reserved for tourists. All of them can be reclined by the pilot to “optimally position astronauts to manage G-forces on boost and re-entry.” The seats have enough free space around them to allow for out-of-seat weightlessness experience

An official price for a ticket to space and back is not known, Branson himself repeatedly said it would be above $250,000, including flight training. A range of prices, depending on unknown criteria, is however in the works.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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