Need more space?

Get a free copy of m 2022 Night Sky ebook and join a community of fellow space enthusiasts!

    VSS Unity Glides Home after Second Supersonic Flight
    Space Tourism

    Virgin Galactic: Space Tourism Company Profile

    If you want to go to space, you’re not alone! In this series on space tourism companies, we profile each of the top space tourism companies to help you learn more about them and what kind of space experience they offer. Below, you can learn more about Virgin Galactic, Sir Richard Branson’s rocket-assisted spaceplane company.

    Dark Skies Book Lonely Planet

    Future Space Tourist?

    Dark Skies: A Practical Guide to Astrotourism is a brand new book from Lonely Planet, written by STG founder Valerie Stimac.

    It covers space tourism companies, including Virgin Galactic, as well as aurora viewing, eclipses, rocket launches, and more!

    Virgin Galactic: Space Tourism Company Details

    Virgin Galactic - Land Rover MENA via Flickr
    Photo credit: Land Rover MENA via Flickr
    • Founded: 2010
    • Founder: Sir Richard Branson
    • Headquarters: Mojave, California
    • Launch Facility: Spaceport America, Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

    Virgin Galactic was founded in 2004 by Virgin Group British billionaire Sir Richard Branson. Branson originally stated that customers would be able to fly to space by the end of 2009. Unfortunately, technical developments and setbacks (including a fatal test flight in 2014) set back Virgin Galactic for over a decade beyond their original target date. They originally sold over 700 tickets to paying customers; these people are still waiting to fly to space and you cannot currently buy a ticket on Virgin Galactic.

    As of late 2019, Virgin Galactic looks to be the first – or at least one of the first – companies to send paying customers to space.

    Where does Virgin Galactic Take Off From?

    Virgin Galactic - Land Rover MENA via Wikimedia Commons
    Photo credit: Land Rover MENA via Wikimedia Commons

    Initially, Virgin Galactic conducted all test flights from Mojave Air & Spaceport in Mojave, California. This was an ideal location in the heart of the Mojave desert.

    When they begin flying customers, Virgin Galactic will operate out of Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. They will be the anchor tenant of Spaceport America.

    How Does Virgin Galactic Work?

    Virgin Galactic - Jeff Foust via Flickr
    Photo credit: Jeff Foust via Flickr

    Once Virgin Galactic starts operating flights for paying customers, here’s what you’ll experience if you’re a ticket-holder:

    • You’ll fly to New Mexico and transfer to Spaceport America, Virgin Galactic’s launch site near the town of Truth or Consequences.
    • You’ll undergo a few days of training in what your experience will be like and how to stay safe during your flight.
    • On the day of you flight, you’ll board the VSS Unity and take-off from the runway at Spaceport America with the help of SpaceShipTwo.
    • At the appointed time, the VSS Unity will detach from SpaceShipTwo and fire its engines to move toward the edge of space.
    • As you reach the apex of elevation, the VSS Unity engines will shut off, and you’ll begin to experience weightlessness.
    • The VSS Unity will begin to return to earth, continuing your weightlessness experience.
    • After a few minutes, your astronaut instructor will help you return to your seats through the remainder of landing.
    • You’ll touch safely down on the runway at Spaceport America after an unforgettable experience.

    During your flight, family and friends will be able to wait for you in a lounge at Spaceport America.

    How High Does Virgin Galactic Go?

    View from Space on Virgin Galactic's First Spaceflight
    View from Space on Virgin Galactic’s First Spaceflight, © Virgin Galactic, 2019

    Virgin Galactic Flights will reach around 360,000ft (110km) in altitude during the course of a flight. This is above the Kármán line (100km), which is commonly considered to be the altitude where space begins.

    As of 2019, the highest Virgin Galactic has flown on test flights is over 271,000ft (82.7km).

    How Long Will a Virgin Galactic Flight Last?

    Virgin Galactic's Spaceflight System prepares for Flight at Spaceport America
    Virgin Galactic’s Spaceflight System prepares for Flight at Spaceport America, © Virgin Galactic, 2019

    When passengers board the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo for their flight from Spaceport America, they will begin a 2.5 hour journey to the edge of space and safely back to earth.

    At the apex of the flight, passengers will experience between 5 minutes and 8 minutes of weightlessness. During this time, passengers will also be able to look out over the edge of the earth’s atmosphere and see the black darkness of space.

    How Much is a Ticket on Virgin Galactic?

    Photo credit: Land Rover MENA via Flickr

    As of 2019, tickets are no longer on sale, and there are over 700 ticket-holders waiting on the reservation list. When tickets were originally sold for Virgin Galactic, the ticket price for a sub-orbital flight was $250,000 per person.

    Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson has said publicly that he hopes ticket prices will fall to between $40,000-$50,000 per person once flights are regularly scheduled and the reserved tickets have all been fulfilled.

    Has Virgin Galactic Gone to Space Yet?

    Virgin Galactic Makes Space for Second Time in Ten Weeks with Three On Board
    Virgin Galactic Makes Space for Second Time in Ten Weeks with Three On Board, © Virgin Galactic, 2019

    After setbacks and test flights between 2010 and 2019, Virgin Galactic has officially gone to space twice: in December 2018 and February 2019. However, Virgin Galactic has not carried paying passengers to space as of September 2019.

    Do you have other questions about Virgin Galactic? Let us know in the comments and we’ll build out this Virgin Galactic space tourism company profile!

    Featured photo © Virgin Galactic, 2019

    Share this to help others enjoy the night sky!

    Valerie is the founder and editor of Space Tourism Guide. She decided to start the site after realizing how many friends and family had never seen the Milky Way, and that space tourism was going to unlock the next great travel destination: space!

    One Comment

    • Ashlee Gentile

      I thought I had never wanted something more in my life. Space has always been the great unknown for us humans. Much as 1400’s explorers feared crossing the sea, the idea of traveling into to space has caused some to literally poop their underwears.. Not me Chief! Unfortunately, my dream to see the Earth from some 25,000 miles high was something crushed at the early age of 17. Sitting down with my computer and a Yahoo search bar, I found out there was a restriction on the height of female pilots. When you grow up, they tell you that you are an AmeriCAN. You can do anything! You can be anything you want. That is not the case for a five foot two gal. “You won’t be able to reach anything. Jets are standardized for a normal height,” they told me when I tried to join the Air Force.

      My heart broken, I vowed to find a way! Have you ever seen Elysium? The movie where a man buys the identity of a pilot to sneak into space. Exactly how gay I was willing to go. Except my first attempt was to throw money at the problem. Here’s the tricky part. I was the first person in my family to go to college. I have paid for EVERYTHING myself. I’ve worked my tush off to become a successful neurophysiologist. I’ve saved and saved. Student dept, paid off. Car, paid off. Parent’s home, paid off for them. I even took some time off to do a few medical missions, I’ve built houses in Cambodia for the victims of Pol Pot’s massacre. I’m a straight shooter, bleeding heart, through and through. Finally, after years and years of dreaming, I saved enough to buy my way into a ticket on Space X. But guess what?!? They are no longer selling $150k seats. In fact, no one is!

      So years to by. I meet a boy. We fall and love. Now we’re engaged. Ho ho! Seats are now becoming available again, and may be a early as 2020. However, a gal can’t afford a new house, a wedding, and a flight into space. A gal is not a millionaire artist with the pocket change available for me and the buds to fly to the moon. But if the wedding was in space… Now that could be affordable. Please please please. Can you help? Nothing would make my life complete except to share it with the man I love. Better yet, if it begins in space. How can I get this done? We want to book two seats on a commerical opportunity to say our vows and essentially float the knot. Now I know what you’re thinking. That’s crazy! There have been others married in space. This is not a brand new concept, but it is for a middle class gal and her true love who have worked their ways up from nothing. Dominick, a 100% Native American, also was the first in his family to go to college. He is a family medicine doctor and is currently volunteering at a hospital in Africa. He is the love of my life. Nothing would make me happier than to spend the rest of my life with him…. But in space, now that would be a magnificent way to start.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.