Space Tourism with Virgin Galactic

By: Aarush A

On Friday, October 31, the SpaceShipTwo ran a powered test flight but crashed. Virgin Galactic uses the spaceship for space tourism and they will be the first in this field. Virgin Galactic says they have booked Justin Bieber and other celebrities. The company owns just one spaceship and they don’t know what caused the crash. The fuel that the ship used was changed from a rubber based substance to a plastic based mix because Virgin Galactic hoped that the new formulation would boost the hybrid rocket engine’s performance since the previous test in January. On the last flight, Peter Siebold was the pilot and Michael Alsbury was the co-pilot. Fortunately, they were the only people on the flight. Footage shows that the co-pilot, Michael Alsbury deployed the feathering system as the ship was entering the sound barrier. Peter Siebold defied the odds and survived by deploying his parachute although he was injured. Michael Alsbury died. The Spaceship’s altitude was 50,000 feet when it disintegrated. The debris was scattered about 95 miles outside Los Angeles close to Mojave California. SpaceShipTwo carries 6 passengers and 2 pilots and seats sell for as much as $250,000. In an article by Alan Boyle of NBC it says that “The company’s billionaire founder, Richard Branson, was hoping to ride on the first commercial flight next year. Over the past decade, he and his investment partners have put hundreds of millions of dollars into the Virgin Galactic venture. After Friday’s crash, Branson said in a Twitter update that he was flying to Mojave immediately to be with the team.” After this crash hopes of the average citizen flying up to outer space in the near future have been delayed, however the scientists at Virgin Galactic aren’t ready to give up.