Gateway to Space: Another Small Step For Richard Branson

Branson’s hope is that it won’t be long before tens of thousands of ordinary humans brave enough to make the trip will be able to afford the flights; and he will have helped forge an entirely new tourism industry.

Stephen Greenwood writes about the christening of the new terminal for Virgin Galactic’s Gateway to Space in New Mexico. It is a combined terminal and hangar facility that will also support up to 2 WhiteKnightTwo and 5 SpaceShipTwo vehicles.

The spaceport and the mothership, WhiteKnightTwo, are complete. Now comes the final testing. The goal is to have all the tests completed by the end of 2012 so that the commercial suborbital flights can commence.

If you have got $200,000 to put down on a ticket, your future adrenaline rush could be the one you get from traveling into suborbital space. For that price you get a 2-1/2 hour flight, 5 minutes of weightlessness and views of Earth that you can brag about when you come back to the planet.

Not to worry though, if you don’t have an extra $200k lying around, if after the initial pioneers get their experience in space and Virgin Galatic can start offering regular flights after figuring out how to operate more flights on a regular basis, this price could drop to a more accessible range.  Easier said than done, but fingers and toes will remain crossed for Branson and Virgin Galactic.

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