Branson is the only one in a group known as the cosmic baron, a group of space-loving billionaires that includes Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, who have openly pledged to cruise in the near future aboard the spaceship. that he has finance.
Bezos’ company, Blue Origin, is working on a competitive orbit of a space-travel rocket. However, Musk’s SpaceX is focused on transporting astronauts and perhaps one day tourists on missions spanning many days into Earth orbit.
Branson has appeared in the media dozens of times over the past decade to advertise various timelines for his extraterrestrial travel, in part due to building a spaceship almost always. It took longer than expected and since development of SpaceShipTwo was plagued by two catastrophic crashes and ̵1; recently – a pandemic. Almost every year since 2004, the company claims to have customers flying for a year or more.
However, on Thursday, Virgin Galactic set a different deadline for Branson’s flight: around January to March 2021.
But Colglazier’s message on Thursday made it clear that Branson, now in his 70s, is still planning to be the poster child for Virgin Galactic’s assertion that virtually anyone can take the trip. go safely.
Is it dangerous?
Proponents of human flight commercialization have long argued that danger – and even tragedy – cannot quell a man’s desire to travel into space.
Virgin Galactic experienced its first tragedy in 2007 when three people were killed and several others were seriously injured in a rocket engine test by employees of Scaled Composites, Virgin’s engineering and manufacturing partner. Galactic done.
It sparked strong criticism from aerospace safety experts and led to an investigation from federal agencies, but the company continued.
Ultimately, it was determined the pilot’s fault that caused the crash. Virgin Galactic parted ways with Scaled Composites, reorganized its manufacturing business and – within two years – got a new, fully assembled SpaceShipTwo with additional safety features.
At least eight other Virgin Galactic employees will fly on SpaceShipTwo prior to Branson’s flight. The company says it plans to fly another test with just two pilots this fall, and another trip with two pilots and four test passengers will take off in early 2021. All of that. will aim to obtain the Federal Aviation Administration’s seal of approval, SpaceShipTwo certification for commercial operations.
Branson will be on the next flight after that.
It’s not yet clear whether Virgin Galactic’s business model – or any space travel business – can turn out to be a successful and sustainable monetization business. But Virgin Galactic executives have conceded over the years that its success or failure will depend on whether the company can convince the public that the ride is not only safe, but worth every seat. sitting or not.