Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity Spaceliner captured this view of Earth during the vehicle's first journey into space on December 13, 201
Credit: Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic wants to make the world a better place by giving many people a much needed perspective.
Company representatives have expressed strong confidence in the "overview effect". This is the idea of seeing the earth as it really is, a beautiful but lonely outpost of life that vacillates in a seemingly endless void and fundamentally changes the way humans think about their homeworld.
As many NASA astronauts have noted over the years, this can both foster concern for the planet's environmental wellbeing and unify the human race, reminding people that the dividing lines that separate them are arbitrary Constructs are. [Classic Views of Earth from Space (Photos)]
"The more people see Earth from above, the more changes you can make on Earth," said US President Mike Moses on February 8 at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington. DC
"They bring home space and you can give people that perspective in a much wider circle than before. I think that's the future," added Moses added.
He spoke at a ceremony to celebrate the donation to RocketMotorTwo's National Air and Space Museum, which inaugurated Virgin Galactic's newest SpaceShipTwo vehicle, VSS Unity, for the first time in suborbital space this December.
The test flight on December 13, piloted by Mark "Forger" Stucky and Frederick "CJ" Sturckow, was the first missions mission launched into space from American soil since NASA launched their space shuttle in July 2011 The Federal Aviation Administration hired Stucky and Sturckow to lend a commercial astronaut wing for the achievement on Thursday during another ceremony that took place at the US Department of Transportation in Washington.
(NASA currently relies on Russian Soyuz rockets and spacecraft to bring US astronauts to and from the International Space Station, but that should be relative SpaceX and Boeing are expected to fly crew orbital with thei r this summer with private vehicles.)
The six-passenger SpaceShipTwo is designed to carry paying customers and scientific payloads on short trips to suborbital space. The winged vehicle is carried by a modified aircraft called WhiteKnightTwo and dropped at a height of about 15,000 meters (15,000 meters). The SpaceShipTwo's onboard rocket motor will then deploy and drive the ship to the last limit.
A ride aboard SpaceShipTwo currently costs $ 250,000. According to Virgin Galactic representatives, more than 600 people have deposited. But the company wants to reach far more people than that. The December 13 milestone suggests that such ambitious ambitions are not far-fetched, said Moses, who served as integration manager for NASA's Space Shuttle program at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in 2008
"I think from the future perspective, we're at this very turning point." At some point, we'll see a test flight suddenly turn five, six, or ten, and then commercial flights, and they'll be from one to five to six go up to 5,000 to hundreds of thousands, "he said. "Our future here is to open space for everyone and give everyone the opportunity to explore space and see the earth from above."
We could soon take a first look at this future. Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson expects SpaceShipTwo's commercial operation to begin mid-year. Branson has repeatedly said that he will be aboard the vehicle's first commercial flight.
Virgin Galactic is not the only major player in the suborbital tourism business. Blue Origin, powered by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, is developing a rocket-capsule combination called the New Shepard that will bring people and payloads into suborbital space and back. New commercial flights from Shepard could start this year, if all goes well, company representatives have said.
The book by Mike Wall about the search for the alien life "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018, Karl Tate) is out now. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall . Follow us @SpaceTotcom or Facebook. Originally published on Space.com.