Virgin Galactic: One Step Closer to the Edge of Space

SpaceShipTwo Aircraft 1 photo
The privately-funded space company owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s Aabar Investments PJS (Public Joint Stock Company) have recently signed a key agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration. It's allegedly an very important step in clearing the path for commercial flights of SpaceShipTwo.
You space fans out there owning hundreds of thousands of dollars probably remember April 2013, when the suborbital, air-launched SpaceShipTwo successfully performed its first powered test flight. Well, know, Virgin Galactic, the company that will run the commercial space flights, took a big step in making those ships legally fly.

It is an agreement that sets out the parameters for how routine space missions launched from Spaceport America, where the ships will depart, will be integrated into the National Airspace System.

To be a bit more precise, according to the company’s press release made a couple a days ago, the agreement spells out how the FAA’s Albuquerque Air Route Traffic Control Center and the New Mexico Spaceport Authority will work with Virgin Galactic to smoothly and safely provide clear airspace.

The company’s CEO George Whitesides considers it's one of the important steps made to get the commercial space launch operations closer to reality: “our team is working hard to begin routine and affordable space launches from Spaceport America and this agreement brings us another step closer to that goal.”

The agreement also provides procedures for the safe integration of commercial, licensed space launch operations into the National Airspace System from Spaceport America. According to the source, the New Mexico Spaceport Authority also has an agreement in place with the U.S.Army’s White Sands Missile Range to support space launch activities.

Although the company’s plans for the first private passenger-carrying service flight to run this year probably won’t happen, it still is a step take makes suborbital commercial travel be more real. Virgin Galactic plans to operate a fleet of five SpaceShipTwoo spaceplanes. Meanwhile, they have been taking bookings for some time, with a suborbital flight carrying an initial ticket price of $200,000 (EUR 146,700). So, you’d better starting saving money!
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