Claudia Gordon at Scaled Composites, Mojave, California.
By James Shillinglaw ~ November 10, 2013
Space is the final frontier, at least as far as tourism is concerned, and Virgin Galactic is set to be the first commercial company to offer space tourism. Now the company has a media partner to cover that auspicious event.
Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic has signed an exclusive deal with NBC Universal to televise the inaugural commercial space flight of SpaceShipTwo. Sir Richard and his children, Holly and Sam, are scheduled to be the first private passengers to travel into space on SpaceShipTwo from Virgin Galactic’s terminal at Spaceport America in New Mexico, with a launch tentatively scheduled next year on some date still to be determined.
NBC News’ Peacock Productions will feature coverage across NBC Universal’s brands and platforms, including MSNBC, CNBC, SYFY, The Weather Channel and NBCNews.com, culminating in a primetime special airing on NBC the night before launch, as well as a three-hour live event on the Today show hosted by Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie.
“Virgin Galactic is thrilled that NBC Universal will join us on our exciting first journey to space,” said Sir Richard. “in this first chapter of commercial space travel, we will help make space accessible and inspire countless more people to join us in the pursuit of space exploration and science innovation.”
Virgin Galactic, owned by Sir Richard’s Virgin Group and Aabar Investments PJS, is on track to be the world’s first commercial spaceline. The company has already accepted nearly $80 million in deposits from roughly 640 individuals who want to travel into space. Travel agents trained in space tourism who are members of the Virtuoso luxury travel consortium have booked many if not most of those passengers.
The new spaceship (SpaceShipTwo, VSS Enterprise) and carrier craft (WhiteKnightTwo, VMS Eve) have been developed for Virgin Galactic’s vehicle fleet by Mojave-based Scaled Composites, founded dby Burt Rutan, SpaceShipOne is built to carry six customers, or the equivalent scientific research payload, on suborbital space flights. The vehicles will allow an out-of-the-seat, zero-gravity experience with views of Earth. The VSS Enterprise and VMS Eve test flight program is well under way leading to Virgin Galactic commercial operations, which will be based at Spaceport America in New Mexico.