Relaxnews - 2011-04-05
Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson's company that hopes to be taking tourists into space within a couple of years, has shown the inside of its spacecraft to the media for the first time.
A BBC journalist was this week given an exclusive look inside the vessel, which is designed to propel six tourists and two pilots through the atmosphere and over 100 kilometers above the Earth.
While the inside looks rather cramped, the first "space tourists" will be able to get a good view thanks to the large porthole-shaped windows on each side, and entry is through a narrow hatch on the bottom side of the vessel.
During their journey into space, passengers will need to sit opposite each other, although they'll be able to leave their seats to float weightlessly for around five minutes once the ship is high enough.
It's estimated that the flight time will be roughly two hours, a fairly short trip but one which is proving fairly popular with those who are able to afford it -- Virgin Galactic says it's had over 400 people booking their $200,000 ticket.
Although Virgin is likely to be one of the first names in space tourism, it's unlikely to be the only one -- at the recent Space Travel Summit in Sofia, Bulgaria, other market entrants such as Inbloon, Blue Origin, Bigelow and other were highlighted.
Not all will use rockets, Inbloon, for instance, preferring a balloon-carried vessel to reach "near-space" altitudes for its €110,000 ($156,000) trip, and some are still highly secretive, such as Blue Origin, founded by Amazon co-founder Jeff Bezos.
But those that don't like the look of Virgin's new spaceship will be relieved to hear that they're not the only airline in the game -- KLM announced last year that it too will sell commercial spaceflights in partnership with Space Experience Curacao