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The spaceplane's contrail was clearly visible from the ground as it soared through the upper atmosphere, to the cheers of the crowd below. Virgin Galactic will partner with a charity fundraising platform to offer the out-of-this-world opportunity. Back at a celebration with supporters from a stage outside Virgin Galactic's Gateway to Space complex at the spaceport, he and crewmates doused one another with champagne. Virgin Galactic has been aiming to bring tourists into space since its foundation in 2004, and seats for space have sold, most recently, for $250,000 each.
I was once a child with a dream looking up to the stars. Now I'm an adult in a spaceship looking down to our beautiful Earth," Branson said in a video from space. Virgin Galactic is offering a free ride to suborbital space to two contest winners from the general public. That said, a selection of lucky people of ordinary means have been invited to take part in tourist spaceflights so far.
It’s a fair point, even if it comes across a little like sour grapes. While not quite crossing that line, the mission was to evaluate SpaceShipTwo’s cabin environment, seat comfort, and the overall experience it will offer customers. The success of the flight also gave the flamboyant entrepreneur bragging rights in a highly publicized rivalry with fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos, the Amazon online retail mogul who had hoped to fly into space first aboard his own space company's rocket.
Space industry executives, future customers, and other well-wishers were on hand for a festive gathering to witness the launch, which was live-streamed in a presentation hosted by late-night television comedian Stephen Colbert. Official wing pins from the Federal Aviation Administration will be presented later, a company spokesman said.
The Swiss-based investment bank UBS has estimated the potential value of the space tourism market to reach $3 billion annually by 2030. Between now and Aug. 31, all funds raised will go to the non-profit Space for Humanity organization, which seeks to democratize access to space. Based on Branson's experience, you'll experience about four minutes of weightlessness aboard VSS Unity.