Even the stones now know that Virgin Galactic plans to send the first space passengers by next June.
There is more, though: second a report from the Trade and Security CommissionRichard Branson's space company is planning to take a decidedly step ahead of the program.
Branson has launched a monstrous fundraising campaign to raise $ 800 million. And it did so by ensuring that they will be used to develop a route capable of sending an aircraft into space every 32 hours within three years.
At the “affordable” price of $ 250.000 per ticket, Virgin Galactic is a serious competitor to Blue Origin by Jeff Bezos and the SpaceX by Elon Musk in the promising space tourism market. (currently, indeed, Blue Origin is the "low cost space company" with only $ 200.000 per ticket).
VSS Unity, formerly known as SpaceShipTwo, will offer during its 90-minute flight a parenthesis of zero gravity, stunning views of the Earth. Of the CURVATURE of the Earth (if we still need to underline the word "curvature") from a height of about 100 kilometers.
According to the report, the first 10 flights will start in 16 months, which will become 270 per year in 2023, when the entire fleet of Virgin Galactic, 5 aircraft, will be deployed.
A trip every 32 hours. 1565 people per year.
No problem filling in the empty places: the trips booked by space tourists are already 600 (if anyone cares, there is also the not-so-famous actor Ashton Kutcher) and have allowed Virgin Galactic to accumulate deposits for 80 million dollars.
Virgin Galactic estimates that space flight earnings will start from 31 million next year to 570 in 2023.
I preach caution
Earnings estimates should be kept at a safe distance from reality: after 15 years of development the Virgin Galactic program has already failed a few appointments, so I preach caution.
In 2014 SpaceShipTwo crashed into a test flight, causing the co-pilot's death and serious consequences for the pilot as well.
Expenses seem to be negative compared to competitors: Branson's three companies (Virgin Galactic, The Spaceship Company and Virgin Orbit) spent a total of between $ 1 billion and $ 1.3 billion. To get the idea, Jeff Bezos has spent a similar amount every year.
Branson and Jeff Bezos are part of a small group of leaders who are spending billions on the adventure of space tourism, with no guarantees that it will bring economic returns.
SpaceX has another destiny, being already active thanks to the partnership with NASA.