Virgin Galactic completed the third successful test flight of its Unity spaceship in late May, its first spaceflight from the Spaceport America hub in New Mexico.
Virgin Galactic has said it expects to begin commercial service in 2022. It has already sold 600 tickets, with prices topping out around $250,000 for suborbital flights.
The company has said costs will go up when ticket sales reopen later this year, but it has yet to name a price for those flights. It is the first spaceline to receive approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly customers into space, though the passengers are governed by an “informed consent” standard, meaning they have to sign a waiver and be made aware of the risks, much like skydivers and bungee jumpers.
“Today’s approval by the FAA of our full commercial launch license, in conjunction with the success of our May 22 test flight, give us confidence as we proceed toward our first fully crewed test flight this summer,” said the company’s chief executive officer Michael Colglazier.
The May 22 flight achieved a speed of Mach 3 and reached space at an altitude of 55.5 miles.