Tech Tuesday: Virgin Galactic Gets Ready For Commercial Space Flight With SpaceShipTwo

Feb 11, 2014

Virgin Galactic recently completed their third powered test flight of SpaceShipTwo, a “space plane” that will give everyday people the opportunity to experience the realms of outer space.

In this week’s Tech Tuesday segment, Jacksonville Museum of Science & History Planetarium Director Tom Webber sat down with our Melissa Ross to discuss the future of space travel.

Crews prepare Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo for a test flight, Feb. 10, 2014.
Credit Virgin Galactic / YouTube

“They are expected to have their first commercial flight this year, and I think it’s kind of interesting that Justin Bieber is one of the first to buy tickets,” said Webber, noting that a single ticket on SpaceShipTwo costs around $250,000. 

“It goes up to an altitude of about 62 miles, which is about the edge of our atmosphere,” he explained.

“It’s not that thick, and the edge of our atmosphere is just like the thin outer layer of an onion, and at that height they’ll experience weightlessness, see the curvature of the earth and of course, see the stars.”

Webber estimated it will be at least 10 years until everyone will be able to travel to space commercially and at a much lower price.

“The commercialization of space flight is going to take some of the routine missions, like servicing the space station, away from NASA and other industries in the world so that they can focus once again on space exploration and robot exploration,” said Webber.

Webber noted that Jacksonville could be a great location to construct a commercial spaceport, identifying Cecil Commerce Center on the city's Westside as an ideal location.

“I think it’s a perfect pair with NASA right here in Florida,” Webber said. “You think about manned space exploration, you think of Florida. What better place would there be?”

WATCH: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo takes flight

You can follow Melissa Ross @MelissainJax and Cole Gordon @Cagordon33Cole.