hong-kong - Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson's company for space tourism, will soon resume his test flights with a new spaceship. Branson hopes that the first paying customers can make a flight to space at the end of next year.
Richard Branson announced the new plans on Thursday. The space project has been silent since a fatal crash in 2014.
Passengers join Virgin Galactic in a spacecraft hanging under an airplane. Together they rise and, in flight, let the plane drop the spacecraft. Next, the rocket engine must turn on, with which the spaceship flies out the atmosphere. If the spaceship is 100 kilometers above the ground, it is officially in space and the passengers are recognized as astronauts. They can then loosen their belts and float for a few minutes without weight. Then the spaceship drops back to the ground. They do not get in a job around the earth.
In the test flights so far, Virgin Galactic has not exceeded 21 kilometers. It went wrong at the fourth test flight, in October 2014. Shortly after disconnection and start of the engine, the spaceship broke into pieces. The brake system proved to be too early. The copilot came alive, the pilot managed to bring himself 15km high with a parachute to safety.
Virgin Galactic, founded in 2004, was a pioneer in commercial space. However, the company has been overtaken in recent years by competitors like SpaceX from Elon Musk, Orbital and Blue Origin.
Virgin also wants to launch commercial launch launches for launching satellites around the world next year.