Home Science Space Richard Branson hopes for trip to space by Christmas 2012

Sir Richard Branson, the owner of Virgin Galactic, has announced that he hopes to take the first ride in SpaceShipTwo in 2012 as his company debuts taking paying customers on suborbital flights into space for about US$200,0000.

If all of the testing goes correctly in 2012, Virgin Galactic will become the first private company to send people into space.

The flights by Virgin Galactic will take off from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

Spaceport America is the world's first purpose-built, commercial spaceport; that is, it was built exclusively for space travel.

The aircraft carrier WhiteKnightTwo will lift the suborbital spacecraft SpaceShipTwo into the air on an approximate 2.5-hour trip.

Both ships were built by Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites (own owned by Northrop Grumman). Six passengers and two pilots will consist of the human payload for SpaceShipTwo.

The venture has been developed by The Spaceship Company, a joint partnership of Scaled Composites and the Virgin Group.

In all, five SpaceShipTwo spaceplanes and WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft are expected to be built to handle the private passenger-carrying services for these suborbital flights.

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William Atkins

William Atkins completed educational degrees in science (bachelor’s in physics and mathematics) from Illinois State University (Normal, United States) and business (master’s in entrepreneurship and bachelor’s in industrial relations) from Western Illinois University