Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is launching its first flight into space this month.
The first commercial spaceflight will be called Galactic 01 and is due to fly between June 27 and June 30.
Galactic 01 will be a scientific research mission, carrying three crew members into orbit.
The crew will be a team of specialists from the Italian Air Force and the National Research Council of Italy and their mission will be to conduct microgravity research.
Following the announcement, Virgin Galactic shares jumped more than 40 percent.
If the first commercial flight into space, is a success, the company says its second flight, called ‘Galactic 02’, will happen soon after in early August.
After this, it plans to hold monthly spaceflights for ticket holders, some of whom have been waiting for more than a decade to hop aboard the rocket-powered space plane.
The company has been doggedly trying to get approval to send paying passengers to space for years.
While trying to get approval, Virgin Galactic sold about 800 tickets to eager space travelers.
Tickets initially sold for $200,000 each, but more recently sold for an eye-watering $450,000 – that’s the same as the price of the average house in the US.
Some of these ticket holders have now officially received their seat assignments on board.
Finally, in 2021 Virgin Galactic won the federal government’s approval and sent its first test flight up.
So, how exactly does the Virgin Galactic space flight work?
The space plane will go up in a carrier aircraft, reaching an altitude of 15,000 meters (50,000 feet).
From here, the plane will drop out of the aircraft.
It will then ignite its rocket motor and continue upwards.
Once it reaches space, the plane will shut its rocket motor up.
It will then glide back down, landing at Spaceport America in the New Mexico desert.