What Is Virgin Galactic?

Richard Branson's space tourism company.

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what is virgin galactic
Image: Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic is an American spaceflight company with Richard Branson as its founder. In simpler terms, it is a private space tourism company that aims to fly tourists to space in the future. Likewise, the company intends to offer flights into space to paying customers in 2022.

Virgin Galactic delayed its starting date for its flights several times. Branson initially wanted the company to be flying customers into space by 2007. However, several technicalities pushed back the date. The company believes it will be offering orbital flights to customers before 2023.

The Mission

virgin spaceflight

Virgin Galactic’s motive is to be the spaceline for Earth, meaning that they focus on using space for a good while maintaining quality. “We recognize that improving access to space is a fundamentally challenging ambition. We will achieve this only in a spirit of collaboration and recognizing that we must continually learn and can always improve,” says their website.

Essentially, the company wants to run regular spaceflights for individuals and private organizations from New Mexico’s Spaceport America, a commercial airport. The company will be a space tourism company, provided it succeeds in the long run.

Virgin Galactic’s future

The company hasn’t made much progress until 2021, but it passed an important milestone in 2018. Its VSS Unity test vehicle reached space — based on a technicality. Likewise, Virgin’s test vehicle called SpaceShipTwo reached an altitude of 51.4 miles, that’s technically space according to the U.S. Air Force.

Moreover, the company has numerous customers that have made deposits for spaceflights. The famous names (confirmed and rumored) include Ashton Kutcher, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, and Katy Perry. However, quite a few people backed out when a Virgin Galactic test aircraft crashed in 2014.

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On 11 July 2021, Virgin Galactic successfully carried out a fully crewed test flight with two pilots and four passengers, including Richard Branson.

With these developments, it is uncertain if Virgin Galactic will offer commercial flights into space by 2022.

If you like this simple explainer, check out our Short Bytes section. We take complex tech topics and break them into short, easy-to-understand articles.

Siddharth Dudeja

Siddharth Dudeja

An engineering student with a keen interest in most aspects of technology. Likes to write about Microsoft, Apple, Laptops, Gaming, etc.

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