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Richard Branson set to be Virgin Galactic’s first passenger next year

Richard Branson, founder of space-travel company Virgin Galactic, will be the company’s first passenger when it heads into space next year, the company says. 

Some 600 people have already paid US$250,000 to reserve a seat on the maiden flight, which will fly into the Earth’s atmosphere. 

Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc is a vertically integrated aerospace and space travel company, pioneering human spaceflight for private individuals and researchers, as well as a manufacturer of advanced air and space vehicles. 

Earlier this week Virgin Galactic said it would be moving to the next stage of the test flight programme in the autumn with two manned flights. 

In a press release the company said “assuming both flights demonstrate the expected results, Virgin Galactic anticipates Sir Richard Branson’s flight to occur in the first quarter of 2021.”  

Virgin Galactic’s development programme has been stalled by various challenges however, including a serious crash in 2014 which delayed development of the SpaceShipTwo. 

On its site the company says, “Using its proprietary and reusable technologies and supported by a distinctive, Virgin-branded customer experience, it is developing a spaceflight system designed to offer customers a unique, multi-day, transformative experience”.” 

The flight will culminate in a spaceflight that includes views of Earth from space and several minutes of weightlessness that will launch from Spaceport America, New Mexico.  

“Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company believe that one of the most exciting and significant opportunities of our time lies in the commercial exploration of space and the development of technology that will change the way we travel across the globe in the future,” the site says. “Together we are opening access to space to change the world for good.” 

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