Richard Branson Is One Step Closer to Going to Space

Jul 27, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

In the new race among space tourism companies, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic seems to keep inching closer to the goal of bringing visitors to the final frontier.

Earlier this year, Branson said Virgin Galactic was just “two or three more flights” away from reaching space.

And on Thursday, Virgin Galactic successfully checked off another one of those test flights. During that test launch, the company’s Unity rocket reportedly went faster and higher than ever before.

In fact, Thursday’s launch fired the rocket’s engine for 11 seconds longer than the last test, for a total burn time of 42 seconds. That’s an important benchmark because Virgin Galactic is incrementally increasing the amount of time the engine fires for each flight, Branson told CNBC, until the rocket can reach the target altitude of 264,000 feet — about 7.5x higher than an average commercial flight. At that altitude, astro-tourists onboard can see the curvature of the Earth and feel weightlessness.

“The rocket motor is performing terrific; we’re actually getting some extra thrust,” Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides told CNBC. “Really what that means is that we’re getting up to the speed which will be the actual speeds for our spaceflight journey.”

A two-member crew operated Unity in Thursday’s flight, which was launched by mothership Eve. Unity pushed past the speed of sound at Mach 2.47 speeds and reached a peak altitude of 170,800 feet. It then turned and glided safely back to land on the runway at the space port in the Mojave Desert.

Unity's crew in the rocket's cockpit. Photo by Virgin Galactic via CNBC.
Unity’s crew in the rocket’s cockpit. Photo by Virgin Galactic via CNBC.

Virgin Galactic already has 700 interested passengers signed up to go to space — for $250,000 a pop.

The space tourism company has made major strides toward its goal after testing was wrenched in 2014 when its first rocket launcher, the Spaceship Enterprise, experienced a fatal crash in October of that year. Virgin Galactic’s first power launch since the fatal accident was in April.

Featured image by Virgin Galactic. 

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months of card membership.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.