Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic has been granted an FAA operating license to give the world's first paying space tourists an out-of-this-world experience once final tests are completed, the Federal Aviation Administration says. Gavino Garay reports.
It's a dream that much closer to reality for Virgin Galactic. Richard Branson's commercial space company has been granted an operating license by U.S. aviation officials to fly passengers to the point of weightlessness. Once final safety tests are completed, space enthusiasts will get just that as they are rocketed some 62 miles above Earth. The license, which is a first of its kind, covers all operations of Virgin Galactic's six-passenger, two-pilot SpaceShipTwo vehicle, including commercial passenger service. That's if "certain terms and conditions" are first met.. and you're willing to pay. Tickets to the tune of $250,000 will get you a seat with some 700 others who have already put in deposits for a joy ride, which includes an element of risk. In October 2014, Virgin Galactic's original SpaceShipTwo vehicle broke apart during a test flight that killed the co-pilot and seriously injured the pilot. That accident was ultimately attributed to pilot error. But don't buckle up just yet... commercial service is not expected to debut before 2017.