Virgin Galactic to Commercialize Spaceplane Flights in 2026 After Successful Tourist Tour

By Thea Felicity

Jun 09, 2024 11:13 AM EDT

NASA's Boeing Crew Flight Test Rollout
NASA's Boeing Crew Flight Test is the first launch with astronauts of the Boeing CFT-100 spacecraft and United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency's Commercial Crew Program. The flight test, targeted for launch at 12:25 p.m. EDT on Saturday, June 1, serves as an end-to-end demonstration of Boeing's crew transportation system and will carry NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams to and from the orbiting laboratory.
(Photo : Joel Kowsky/NASA via Getty Images)

On June 8, Virgin Galactic (SPCE.N) achieved another milestone in space tourism by flying four tourists to the edge of space and back aboard its spaceplane. Reuters reported this marked the company's second successful flight this year, reaffirming its commitment to commercial space travel. 

Virgin Galactic's Galactic 07 mission carried passengers from three different countries to an altitude of about 55 miles above the Earth's surface, lasting slightly more than an hour. 

The mission departed from Spaceport America in New Mexico and safely returned to its starting point, demonstrating Virgin Galactic's ability to provide distinctive space travel opportunities.

READ MORE: Virgin Galactic's Second 2024 Spaceflight Triumphs with International Tourists

Commercial Space Flights

As reported by VCPost, this flight also served as the final commercial journey for its VSS Unity spaceplane. 

Virgin Galactic is currently focusing on producing its fourth-generation spaceships, which are slated to commence commercial operations in 2026. This development aligns with the company's mission and ongoing efforts to advance space tourism and make it more accessible to aspiring space travelers.

However, the company has yet to provide initial pricing since commercial space flights are likely expensive. All costs associated with space travel are expected to be typically high due to factors such as research and development, infrastructure, safety measures, and limited capacity. 

READ NEXT: NASA Awards Over $10 Million to 7 Companies for Mars Sample Return Mission Studies

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