Only 547 people have traveled into space so far. But Virgin Galactic and its founder, Sir Richard Branson, are out to change that.
“Richard is all about democratizing access, so the idea that the common person could go up into space and experience the beauty of space was his dream,” Virtuoso Chairman and CEO Matthew Upchurch told the Australian TV program Mornings.
The world’s first spaceline hasn’t announced a date yet for its maiden flight. Anticipation is building while Virgin Galactic tests its craft so passengers will have a safe journey. “Everybody says when are you going and I say when it’s ready,” explained Upchurch. “This has never been done. It’s a big big big project.”
On Mornings, Upchurch described what the Virgin Galactic space flight experience will include. Over four days, Future Astronauts will arrive at Spaceport America in New Mexico. The first three days will consist of being outfitted for spacesuits (Upchurch observed that “Virgin knows style”), taking care of medical requirements, training including a microgravity experience, and dress rehearsals.
Very early in the morning on Day 4 the actual Virgin Galactic space flight will begin. The spaceship will take off for its four-hour suborbital journey. “You have basically this amazing mother ship that takes the spaceship and takes off like a normal aircraft and then takes it up to 55,000 feet,” Upchurch described. “Then what happens is they uncouple the spacecraft, the mother ship pulls off, you’re dropping probably a couple thousand feet, they ignite the rocket engine, then you go from 54,000 feet to 365,000 feet in 90 seconds.”
After the craft travels at two and a half times the speed of sound then, the rocket turns off.
“Then you unbuckle your seat – you have about four minutes of weightlessness,” Upchurch explained. “You just don’t understand how incredible four minutes of weightlessness is going to be. Then you’re looking out the window at Earth, then you get back in your seat and then comes the re-entry … And then we have the biggest party you’ve ever seen.”
Why is Upchurch so passionate about the Virgin Galactic space flight experience? “Travel is all about removing yourself from your comfort zone and seeing things from a different perspective,” he commented. “That’s why I’m doing it. I’m not a thrill seeker. To me being able to be disconnected from Earth and seeing it from that perspective – life changing.”
Virtuoso travel advisors have exclusive rights to sell Virgin Galactic space flights in North, Central and South America. If you’re interested in finding out more about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, a Virtuoso Accredited Space Agent can help.