Start the space tourism count­down

In­sight by Ge­orge T White­sides

Australian T3 - - CONTENTS - Ge­orge T. White­sides

Ev­ery­one wants to know when Vir­gin Galac­tic will take its maiden pas­sen­ger flight. Well, we think we’ve got a very good shot of fly­ing Richard by the end of this year, and I’m as ex­cited about that as any­one – be­fore I joined the com­pany as CEO, I was ac­tu­ally a cus­tomer. Yep, I bought a cou­ple of tick­ets early on.

So is Vir­gin Galac­tic an Amer­i­can or Bri­tish com­pany, then? It’s both. It’s in­ter­na­tional. Sure, the tech is pri­mar­ily US-based – cen­tred in Mo­jave, with op­er­a­tions to be down in New Mex­ico – but the UK is where the com­pany was in­cu­bated, where the first em­ploy­ees were based, and where the commercial of­fice is. We also hired our de­signer from Vir­gin At­lantic; he did the Up­per Class suite and we’re try­ing to bring that de­sign lan­guage into our ve­hi­cle, both in the space­ship in­te­ri­ors and the Space Port.

While Vir­gin may be ahead in the “space tourism” race, what we’ve dis­cov­ered is that – guess what? – putting some­one in space is re­ally hard. There are ri­val com­pa­nies try­ing to roll out new ve­hi­cles, but I would hope it will take them a few years be­fore they feel com­fort­able putting some­body on one. It’s so im­por­tant for the in­dus­try that we get off on

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