Commercial space flight may finally become a reality next year – an event that will break new ground for science, mankind and the aviation industry.
Virgin Galactic, the Abu Dhabi-backed spaceflight company, announced that a series of powered tests will be carried out every three weeks within the coming months, with the aircraft gradually increasing in altitude and aiming to reach space by November or December this year.
Should the tests be successful, billionaire and Virgin Galactic owner Richard Branson will lead the first batch of tourists to ride into space by the middle of next year.
The company looks to officially open its commercial space flight operations to paying passengers by the end of 2018.
Founded in 2004, the ambitious project is a pioneering space tourism industry operation and aims to be the first to offer commercial space flights to the public.
The project resumed its free-flight test in September last year after grounding operations following a fatal accident during a test run in October 2014.