Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic to take tourists to edge of space in 2021
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Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic are planning to take tourists to the edge of space as early as next year.
The firm had unveiled a new mirrored spaceship called VSS Imagine that is designed to "reflect the environment around it" as it moved through the clouds and out to space.
Glide flights within Earth's atmosphere are due to begin this summer in the skies over New Mexico followed by suborbital flights soon after if early tests are a success.
The British entrepreneur will fly to the edge of the space by the end of this summer. Before that Virgin Galactic will operate two test flights starting in May, the first with just pilots and the second carrying a full crew.
No details have been released about the price of tickets, but it is rumoured they will come with a hefty price tag of $250,000 (£175,000) a ticket for the 90-minute flight.
Sir Richard has previously said he would like the price to fall as low as $40,000 (£30,700) over the next decade.
Virgin Galactic says its new spaceplane showcases the firm's "innovation in design and astronaut experience".
The company's longer-term goal is to have multiple spaceports around the world, each offering a different journey up into space and back down to Earth again.
Their first flights will all leave from and arrive at Spaceport America in New Mexico, the new base for Virgin Galactic.
Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier told MailOnline: "We are going to start at Spaceport America New Mexico, but I think the experience we created and what we can do around a spaceport is going to be compelling to other communities and other governments.
"As we go to the next spaceport we will be able to ramp up much more quickly.
"The eventual number of spaceports we will see, but we are very bullish on our ability to go to other parts of the world and share this with other countries.
"I think the perspective down to the planet will be different and the experience around it will be different for each place we fly from."
VSS Imagine is due to be officially unveiled ahead of VSS Unity's next test flight, which is planned for May 2021, the first of two leading up to Sir Richard's summer flight.
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