Sir Richard Branson’s mission to turn tourists into astronauts is nearly ready for take off.
The Virgin founder’s space tourism programme will blast anyone with deep enough pockets out of the Earth’s atmosphere.
In the middle of the New Mexico desert, the gateway to space awaits.
Space Port America is a glistening hub for vehicles and astronauts only, a rocket launch site under military airspace.
It’s star tenant, Virgin Galactic, has an impressive fleet of spacecrafts but for years its promise of passenger flights has been pushed back.
A fatal test flight in 2014, put the dream of space tourism on hold but now Sir Richard Branson says they’re just about ready to blast off with paying customers on board.
“They’ll be taken up by our mothership up to about 25,000ft, they’ll be dropped. They’ll go to about 3,500 miles an hour in eight seconds,” said Branson.
Since the beginning of human space flight, less than 600 people have been to space and that is set to change dramatically with a long term goal of 400 commercial flights a year.
If all goes well with the next test flight, those paying customers could be leaving Earth from early next year.