Branson Revives Virgin Galactic as the Commercial Race to Space Heats Up

Richard Branson’s commercial space tourism company Virgin Galactic announced plans to launch its first powered test flight in nearly two and a half years.

In 2014, the company’s first scheduled commercial flight to space was put on hold after an experimental rocket SpaceShipTwo crashed in the Mojave Desert killing co-pilot Michael Alsbury.

Virgin Galactic announced plans to conduct spacecraft flight tests every three weeks with the goal of launching into space by December. The first civilian to be passengered into space will be none other than Branson himself. After this Virgin Galactic predicts full commercial flights will be operating by the end of 2018.  

Over the years Branson has repeatedly expressed that the market for commercial space travel has huge potential and that there is plenty of room for competitors. He recently told Bloomberg News, “We will never be able to build enough spaceships. The demand is enormous.”Branson isn’t the only one who sees untapped potential in commercial space travel.

Elon Musk and SpaceX launched their 10th Falcon 9 rocket into space on the same day Virgin Galactic announced its plans for commercial flight by 2019. Likewise, Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin LLC are working on their own rocket which has already flown through suborbital space five times. Even Donald Trump announced his intent to revive a Cold War-era council that helped shape space policy, noting that private companies will play “an important role” in the next phase of space technology and exploration. This may be just the beginning of a present day commercial race to space.

 

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