The space race has intensified in recent years and it seems Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is moving closer to the goal. Virgin Galactic has announced that it has got a green signal to begin flying customers to the edge of space. The company has got the license that is required to take passengers to space on future spaceflights. The venture has completed its development testing and this was the only hurdle on its way. In a statement, the company said that the Federal Aviation Administration has updated its commercial space license. The development has been confirmed by an FAA spokesperson. “A new chapter will soon be added in the story of human space flight. We have cleared the first commercial space license. This will allow private individuals to travel into space,” the FAA said in a statement.
Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier said that the decision is a big compliment for the team and an exciting milestone for the company. “The commercial license issued to Virgin Galactic in 2016 is still there. But it has now been cleared to allow the company to carry commercial passengers whenever we are ready for it. This is a big achievement for us,” Colglazier was quoted as saying in a media report. The previously issued license allowed the company to conduct spaceflights. But now the expansion allows Virgin Galactic to fly what the regulators refer to as ‘spaceflight participants.’ In order to clear the final two milestones, the company completed a 29 element verification and validation program. The company conducted its most recent spaceflight test in May.
Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft Unity is capable of carrying a total of six passengers to space, with two of them being pilots. The company already has around 600 reservations for tickets for future flights to space. Each ticket was sold in the price range of USD 200,000 to USD 250,000. For those who are unaware, the United States officially considers an altitude of 80 kms as the boundary to space. Virgin Galactic has completed three spaceflight tests to date. The company has already announced that four passengers would be traveling to space in its next spaceflight. The second one would take founder Sir Richard Branson. According to the company, members of the Italian Air Force will travel to space in the third spaceflight for professional astronaut training.