From 2023, Virgin Galactic planning 3 space flights a month

  • Virgin Galactic told investors last month it would push back the start of commercial flights to the fourth quarter of 2022 as it completes an overhaul of its carrier plane, VMS Eve.
Billionaire entrepreneur and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson(REUTERS)
Billionaire entrepreneur and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson(REUTERS)
Updated on Nov 10, 2021 05:47 PM IST
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Agencies | , Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Virgin Galactic expects to be flying paying passengers three times monthly in 2023, signalling it’s on track to ramp up commercial flights after delays this year pushed back its space tourism debut timeline.

The company plans to offer as many as three flights a month after it completes upgrades to its carrier airplane and introduces a second spaceship, chief executive officer Michael Colglazier said on Monday on a call with analysts.

Virgin Galactic told investors last month it would push back the start of commercial flights to the fourth quarter of 2022 as it completes an overhaul of its carrier plane, VMS Eve, which requires new horizontal stabilisers and a redesigned pylon to carry the spaceships to their drop altitude. The company’s spacecraft are dropped from the carrier at about 50,000 feet before igniting a rocket motor and continuing to space.

The startup’s new VSS Imagine spaceship is to begin flight tests in early 2023 and will be flying twice monthly later that year, joining the current VSS Unity ship, which will fly about once per month, Colglazier said.

The company has sold around 100 tickets since flying its founder Richard Branson to space last summer, the company said in its financial results on Monday. The current price of the fare is $450,000 per seat, well above the $200,000-$250,000 paid by some 600 customers from 2005 to 2014. In total, the company has now sold 700 tickets, a spokesperson told AFP.

SpaceX brings four astronauts back to Earth

Four astronauts returned to Earth Monday in a SpaceX craft after spending six months on the International Space Station.

The international crew conducted thousands of experiments in orbit and helped upgrade the solar panels on the ISS during their “Crew-2” mission.

Its descent slowed by four huge parachutes, their Dragon spacecraft - dubbed “Endeavour” - splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico at 10:30pm before it was lifted onto a recovery ship.

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Thursday, June 30, 2022