Virgin Galactic one step closer to Middle East space tourism
Space tourism in the Middle East came a step closer this week after Virgin Galactic's successful test flight of its new spaceship over the Mojave desert in California.
The VSS Enterprise craft was strapped to the mothership aircraft for the three-hour test flight, where it reached an altitude of 45,000 ft.
Tests will continue on the VSS Enterprise until 2011, before the first commercial flights take place in the USA.
As reported in an earlier edition of Arabian Aerospace there will eventually be space tourism flights from Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi’s Aabar Investments and Virgin Group announced a strategic partnership last year, which saw Aabar take an equity stake in the company.
Under the deal, Aabar will ultimately invest US$280m and is committed to funding a small satellite launch capability in the region.
Once space tourism gets under way in Abu Dhabi would-be astronauts are likely to pay around $200,000 for a two and a half hour flight that will take them to 60 miles above the earth. Around 350 people worldwide have already committed around $50 million dollars to do just that, including around 20 people from the Gulf region.