By Hope Imaka – EMTV Online
Space Travel, a concept long thought of for decades by mankind; portrayed through science fiction novels, and films such as the Star Wars Saga and Star Trek; the outward fascination of the world beyond the Earth’s borders has always rung.
And now, founded by English billionaire Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic, a spaceflight company that promotes space tourism is now looking towards launching satellites into space.
Initially, Virgin Galactic had in place, for a hefty fee plans to carry human passengers for a brief ride into space. However, plans for human spaceflight have been stalled further due to the loss of a SpaceshipTwo spaceplane in an accident in 2014 that cost the life of a test-pilot.
In light of this delay, Virgin Galactic has shifted its focus to launching small satellites, a growing sector of the commercial spaceflight business thanks to new technological innovations.
Virgin Galactic planned to launch small satellites from midair via a rocket attached to its White Knight Two aircraft, which is also used to carry Space Ship Two to altitude.
This week however, a new strategy announced by the company will instead employ the use of a Boeing 747-400 that once flew for Branson-founded airline Virgin Atlantic, to launch the satellite carrying rockets into space.
In a statement, Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said the move to the 747 would keep costs down for the company’s satellite launch customers.
“Air launch enables us to provide rapid, responsive service to our satellite customers on a schedule set by their business and operational needs, rather than the constraints of national launch ranges,” said Whitesides. “Selecting the 747 airframe provides a dedicated platform that gives us the capacity to substantially increase our payload to orbit without increasing our prices.”
Satellite launching in the views of those in Virgin Galactic serve a far greater purpose than simply exploring space.
“It’s our destiny to reach out beyond our world and into the universe. And to gaze back and appreciate what we have here on earth. If you are inquisitive about life, and inquisitive about the world around us, most of what’s around us is space.”
~Sir Richard Branson, Founder Virgin Group
“The vision is to let people see space from above. Every astronaut I’ve talked to, that changes them. From above you don’t see state and country borders; you see the earth’s resources as fragile environment. The more people that see this for themselves, the more that they’ll make this a part of their daily lives, and I hope that by the time my kids are able to go into space, we’ll change our global culture and recognise that space is where we belong, and the earth is something that needs to be a little better protected.”
~Michael P. Moses, Vice President of Operation, Virgin Galactic