By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
Space flight company Virgin Galactic is ready to take paying customers to the edge of space as early as this year, says company founder Richard Branson. Even though critics claim there are too many problems to overcome, like safety and performance issues, Branson is sure the project will succeed in a matter of months.
The company already has thousands of dollars in customer deposits for the space trip. Branson is just waiting for a license from the US Federal Aviation Administration (who controls flights in the country) to make sub-orbital flights – trips where a craft reaches space but does not complete a full orbit around Earth. He’s so sure the project will be successful, he’s already planning a trip into space with his family before the end of the year.
Although Virgin Galactic’s focus is on space flights right now, their ultimate goal is to cut travel time for long distance flights across Earth. How? By traveling at higher altitudes (elevations) and moving at supersonic speeds. In fact, the company just had its third test flight with a rocket-powered craft named SpaceShipTwo. It reached a height of 71,000 feet, the highest ever for the aircraft.
Images courtesy of Virgin Galactic.