Virgin Galactic takes big step toward space flight
It's not exactly Cape Canaveral, but the door is now open for regular space flights out of New Mexico thanks to a new deal between Virgin Galactic and the Federal Aviation Administration.
Virgin Galactic announced the deal lays some ground rules for the company's use of New Mexico airspace for launches of SpaceShipTwo, the company's latest "spaceplane."
Virgin Galactic's hub, called Spaceport America, was finished in August of 2012, and is located in the middle of the Jornada del Muerto desert basin. (Via Flickr / Jeff Foust)
Spaceport America neighbors White Sands Missile Range, the site of the first ever nuclear detonation, in 1945. (Via Los Alamos National Laboratory)
Virgin's billionaire CEO Richard Branson has long had his heart set on what he calls space tourism since before Virgin Galactic was founded in 2004. But now he says commercial flights could start within the year. (Via Flickr / D@LY3D)
According to Fusion, Branson says, "I'm pretty convinced by this summer a large new space craft will go into space. And then I think by September myself and my family will have been into space. I'm 90 percent convinced that that will happen."
Meanwhile, NASA has seen budget cuts in recent years, and some experts say collaboration with the private sector could be the future of space exploration.
NASA is looking to start using privately built spacecrafts to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station by 2017. (Via Space.com)
NASA also reports that Virgin Galactic's more interested in the money than the science, at least according to former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who says Virgin isn't even really going to space in the first place. (Via NASA)
CNN reports, "Why is it space? Because Richard Branson said it was space. It's dark, nothing will stay in orbit at 62 miles; you have to get 100, or 150."
Call it what you will, but if you want to hitch a ride on one of Virgin's flights it'll only set you back a cool quarter of a million dollars.