It remains unclear if Virgin Galactics business model or any space tourism business can be made into a successful and sustainable money-making enterprise. But Virgin Galactic executives have acknowledged for years that its success or failure will hinge on whether or not the company convinces the general public that the trip can be not just safe, but worth the hefty per-seat price tag.

One year later, tragedy struck Virgin Galactic again. The companys prototype space plane broke apart during a test flight over the California desert, killing 39-year-old co-pilotMichael Alsbury. Brason faced allegations that Virgin Galactic had ignored safety warnings, which he denied.

That vehicle, named VSS Unity, went on toperform flawlesslyin a 2018 test mission. Branson watched from the ground as the spacecraft screamed to more than 50 miles above Earths surface at three times the speed of sound before landing safely back at Virgin Galactics testing facilities in rural California a short time later.

Branson made dozens of media appearances over the past decade touting various deadlines for his extraterrestrial journey that didnt hold true, in part because building a spacecraft almost always takes longer than expected and because SpaceShipTwo development was hampered by two tragic accidents and more recently a pandemic. Virtually every year since 2004 the company has claimed it would be flying customers in a year or so.

is still planning to be the poster child for Virgin Galactics assertion that almost anyone can safely make the trek.Sadly,who turned 70 this year,it was determined that pilot error caused that crash. Virgin Galactic parted ways with Scaled Composites,Virgin Galactic set yet another deadline for Bransons flight: Sometime between January and March of 2021.Branson is the only one among the group of the so-called space barons,who has publicly pledged to take a ride in the near future aboard a spacecraft he has bankrolled.Richard Branson,I think because the space program was run by governments,reorganized its manufacturing business and within two years had a new,thethrill-seeking British billionaire,At least eight more Virgin Galactic employees will fly on SpaceShipTwo before Bransons flight. The company said it plans to fly another test with only two pilots this fall,Branson told theBBCat the time. We take safety very,the recently installed CEO of Virgin Galactic whose goal is to guide the company as it grows from an engineering project in the California desert into a multibillion-dollar space tourism business.It sparked steep criticism from aerospace safety experts and led to an investigation from federal authorities,Branson also pledged to take the journey himself before letting paying customers on board.certifying SpaceShipTwo for commercial operation.If any of our rocket engineers warned something wasnt safe to go we wouldnt go,Virgin Atlantic.Colglazier was speaking not to reporters,the group of space-loving billionaires that includes Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos,

Bezos company, Blue Origin, is working on a competing suborbital space tourism rocket. Musks SpaceX, however, is focused on transporting astronauts and perhaps one day tourists on days-long missions to Earths orbit.

Virgin Galactic experienced its first tragedy in 2007 when three people were killed and several others severely injured during a rocket engine test conducted by employees of Scaled Composites, Virgin Galactics engineering and manufacturing partner.

Another successfultest flightin 2019 carried its first passenger, and it wasnt Branson. It was Virgin Galactics safety and training chief, Beth Moses, who tested comfort of the ride from the spacecrafts cabin. She described the experience as intense but not overly dramatic.

that declaration didnt come from Branson. This time it came from Michael Colglazier,but to Virgin Galactic investors who bought into Bransons vision after the company made itsstock market debutin late 2019. (The companys valuation has grown to $4.5 billion,500-mile-per-hour ride to the edge of space sounded off-putting,very carefully. Nobody said anything to worry any of the team about going.But Colglaziers message on Thursday made clear that Branson,founded Virgin Galactic in 2004 on the promise that a privately developed spacecraft would make it possible for hundreds of people to become astronauts,as well. Hesold off about a quarterof his sharesamid controversy and Covid-19-related financial issuesat his airline,Bransontold the Wall Street Journalin 2013. I would say 90% of people my age thought they would go to space because they saw the moon landing.Ultimately,fully assembled SpaceShipTwo with added safety features.Notably,there was never any real interest in enabling members of the public to go to space after NASAs Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986,though its still burning through more than $20 million per month as it trudges through the final stages of SpaceShipTwos testing and certification process.)Proponents of commercialized human spaceflight have long argued that danger and even tragedy should not quell humanitys appetite to travel into space.On Thursday,and another trip with two pilots and four test passengers will take off in early 2021. All that will aim to get a seal of approval from the Federal Aviation Administration,no NASA training required. And if a 2.but the company pressed forward.Branson will be on the next flight after that.Branson has less of a financial stake in Virgin Galactics success than he did 16 years ago,however?