With Virgin Galactic celebrating the dedication of Spaceport America today in Las Cruces, New Mexico, would-be space tourists are hoping that the company’s vision is getting closer to reality.
A new deal with NASA has bolstered the company’s credentials. The company announced on Friday that it had signed a contract for up to three flights, worth $4.5 million, that would carry nearly 600 kilograms of into suborbital space.
Who wants to do this? There are at least a few scientists excited about it. For now, the Flight Opportunities Program NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center will pick the lucky experimentalists. While the company says that research could ultimately be a big part of its business, tourists will be filling most of the seats. Virgin Galactic claims to have collected deposits from 455 people willing to pay $200,000 for a few minutes of weightlessness. First flights could come in 2012.