The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has finally given their seal of approval to Virgin Galactic, marking them as clear to take commercial passengers into space.
“Today’s approval by the FAA of our full commercial launch license, in conjunction with the success of our May 22 test flight, give us confidence as we proceed toward our first fully crewed test flight this summer,” stated the CEO of Virgin Galactic, Michael Colglazier, in a release this past Friday.
As you may know, the founder of Virgin Galactic, Sir Richard Branson, is in a race with Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and Blue Origin, and the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk, to be the first group to take privileged tourists into space.
“Virgin Galactic hasn’t announced when its next spaceflight will be, but there’s speculation the company will try to launch Branson to space before Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos makes his trip to the edge of space on July 20,” reported the New York Post.
Parabolic Arc, a blog that follows events about space, stated earlier this past month that “Branson’s flight would take place about two weeks before Bezos, his brother Mark and the winner of an online auction are scheduled to board Blue Origin’s New Shepard vehicle for a suborbital flight on July 20. It will be the first crewed flight of New Shepard, which has flown 15 times with no one aboard.”
Recently this month, a person with more cash than sense took part in and won an auction to be allowed to join Bezos and others on a trip into space.
“The Amazon founder’s rocket company, Blue Origin, did not disclose the winner’s name following the live online auction,” reported WDSU-TV. “The identity will be revealed in a couple weeks — closer to the brief up-and-down flight from West Texas on July 20, the 52nd anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s moon landing.”
The New Shepard rocket, from Blue Origin, has participated in over 15 test flights since 2015, all of which have been successful. “The completely automated capsule can carry up to six passengers, each with their own big window. Blue Origin’s top sales director, Ariane Cornell, said following the auction that the fourth and final seat on the debut crew flight will be announced soon,” reported the station.
There were over 7,500 individuals hailing from over 160 different countries signed up to be able to bid on the seats on the flight, as stated by Blue Origin. However, just a measly 20 people were allowed to take part in the final action that took place this past Saturday.
“The winning bid amount will be donated to Blue Origin’s foundation, Club for the Future, whose mission is to inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM and to help invent the future of life in space” stated the website for Blue Origin.