I dunno, guys. I feel like if there’s one thing we all should have learned from the “catastrophic implosion” of Titan, the Titanic tourist submersible that killed all five people on board, it’s that maybe we don’t have to explore every last centimeter of Earth (and beyond). However, that hasn’t stopped Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic company from charging curious (rich) tourists $450,000 to go check out space for a bit. And hey, there’s even a flight leaving tomorrow!
The 90-minute suborbital flight scheduled to take off on Thursday morning will include three members of the Italian Air Force and National Research Council of Italy, who plan to do several “suborbital science experiments,” Virgin Galactic said in a statement. There will also be four pilots and one of Virgin Galactic’s astronauts above.
🇮🇹 Ciao, #Galactic01!
Meet the crew from the @ItalianAirForce & @CNRSocial_. On June 29, they will take-off to conduct more than a dozen experiments in space, which will examine how microgravity effects the human body and other materials. Learn more about their roles and sign… pic.twitter.com/1CKq2FTKtn
— Virgin Galactic (@virgingalactic) June 26, 2023
The flight comes about a week after a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing by the company revealed it hopes to raise money by selling about $400 million worth of stock so that it can use funds for the” development of its spaceship fleet and infrastructure to scale its commercial operations and for general corporate purposes, including working capital and general and administrative matters.”
To be fair, this isn’t the first ever Virgin Galactic space flight. There was one in May 2023 that seemed to go well enough — no one died and the vessel survived unharmed. Previous to that, there was one in July 2021 that Richard Branson himself flew on, and that went okay too. The crafts the company is building do seem to value safety and regulation much more than OceanGate Expeditions’ Titan, but still… we can hardly say this is a tried and true voyage.
That being said, if you have about half a million bucks lying around and a death wish, Virgin Galactic does hope to start doing this more regularly in 2023. Sure, floating around in Zero G for a bit seems like fun, but so does staying alive with my feet on the ground, so I’ll give that one a miss.