Space tourism: Boeing’s subsidiary Virgin Galactic will design and manufacture the planes

Space tourism: Boeing's subsidiary Virgin Galactic will design and manufacture the planes

On Wednesday, July 6, we learned that Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences will be responsible for designing and manufacturing new carrier planes for space tourism company Virgin Galactic. According to the announced partnership between the two companies, these large devices will be tasked with taking Virgin Galactic spacecraft to a certain altitude before launching them on their journey into orbit. The company currently uses a carrier aircraft manufactured by Scaled Composites.

Future Aurora devices are “an integral part of improving our operations,” Virgin Galactic Chief Executive Michael Colglesier said in a statement. Virgin Galactic aims to operate 400 flights a year from its base in New Mexico, he noted, “which will be faster to manufacture, easier to maintain, and allow us to do more missions every year.”

Aurora’s first ship is expected to enter service in 2025

Production of the carrier vessels will take place at Aurora’s factories in Columbus, Mississippi and Bridgeport, West Virginia, with final assembly at Virgin Galactic’s California site. Aurora’s first ship is expected to enter service in 2025. Both groups did not disclose the deal amount. Created in 2004, Virgin Galactic was intended to allow hundreds of (wealthy) passengers to enjoy, for a few minutes with their own eyes, the curvature of the Earth.

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Its founder Richard Branson was able to spend a few minutes in space with VSS Unity last July. The first flights with paying passengers should take place in the first quarter of 2023. Virgin Galactic doesn’t offer rocket travel like SpaceX or Blue Origin. His ship looks like a giant private jet. It is pushed to a certain altitude by a large carrier aircraft that takes off from a conventional runway. Once released, it runs its engine until it exceeds an altitude of 80 kilometers — a range with a gap according to the US military — and then descends while gliding.

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