Virgin Galactic recently announced the start of commercial spaceline operations. I’m going to call it the Virgin Galactic Space Tourist Program. The first commercial spaceflight, ‘Galactic 01’, carrying three crew members from the Italian Air Force and the National Research Council of Italy to conduct microgravity research, will fly between June 27 – June 30, 2023. The second commercial spaceflight, ‘Galactic 02’ carrying private ticket holders, will follow in early August 2023, with monthly spaceflights expected afterwards.
The company says that with the scientific payloads on board, the first spaceflight will showcase the value and power of the unique suborbital science lab that Virgin Galactic offers.
Details regarding the crew and manifest for initial flights will be released before each mission.
The company also plans to live stream both ‘Galactic O1’ and ‘Galactic 02’ missions on its website www.virginGalactic.com.
The commercial spaceline has two products defined by the company – scientific research and private astronaut space missions, according to Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic, who also says, “This next exciting chapter for Virgin Galactic has been driven by innovation, determination and a commitment to delivering an unparalleled and truly transformative customer experience.”
So it seems the race to commercialise space tourism between the billionaires club will be won by Virgin. And hence my renaming of this as the Virgin Galactic Space Tourist program.
So, what else do we know about the Virgin Galactic Space Tourist program?
Commentary seems to be split between criticism about the wasted money and the fact that only the super wealthy, or those with backing for scientific endeavours, will likely be able to afford a seat on the planned monthly space jaunts. However, Virgin Galactic has said it aims to reduce the price as quickly as possible by scheduling multiple trips.
Tech writers have suggested that the cost of the flights may become close to that of a three-week tropical holiday – and if that is the case, I think I’ll take the three-week tropical holiday. Hopefully, the costs might come down a lot quicker than that.
I have wanted to go into space since I first saw Star Trek The next Generation in the late 80s and early 90s, as well as my obsession with The Transformers. And I had hoped, but never really believed, it would be commercially viable in my lifetime, and certainly not affordable by your “average-joe”. It seems it might be. Assuming I have that amount of money lying around, I’m not sure I would choose to be a Virgin Galactic Space Tourist, over three weeks of pampering in a Tropical setting.
I was reminded by my husband though, that even if we did somehow find or have the funds to go to space on a private flight, with Virgin Galactic or one of their competitors; I may not make it through the physical rigours. Pfft. What a cheek!
Still, even though I would not take a space flight over a three-week tropical holiday, I am genuinely excited by this news. It’s one of those pivotal moments in human thinking where our entire frame of reference changes.
- Before after the motorcar was commercialised.
- Before and after, the telephone became a household item.
- Before and after the internet and home computers became ubiquitous.
- Before and after smartphones.
- Before and after Social Media.
The babies, toddlers, and young children of today will not know a world where buying a ticket to go to space, for whatever reason, does not exist. It will be as inconceivable to them as it is to us that we can’t hop on a bus, tram, train, plane or cruise liner.
That’s the world that just got created with this announcement and will come into being through the remainder of 2023.
What a time to be alive, the beginning of private and commercial space flights. Humans will be spreading out into space next, and it’s happening in your lifetime.
What a time to be alive indeed.