Today, Sept. 27, marks the 15th anniversary of Richard Branson announcing the launch of Virgin Galactic Airways. It’s been a long, winding road between that day and today, filled with many broken promises, missed deadlines, fatal accidents and a pair of spaceflights.
This year actually marks a double anniversary: it’s been 20 years since Branson registered the company and began searching for a vehicle the company could use to fly tourists into suborbital space.
Below is a timeline of the important events over that period.
A couple of other Virgin Galactic space tourism items this morning, including a TV show in India:
The Indian version of upcoming American TV show Space Race will chronicle the struggle of 16 competitors vying for the coveted spot on the spacecraft.
Interestingly, the rights to the show, created by LA-based TV producer Mark Burnett (of Survivor and The Apprentice fame), have been acquired by a Mumbai-based production house for the Indian market. “Yes, we have acquired the rights for an Indian version. We got it last month (in October),” says Akash Sharma, co-founder and managing director, Bulldog Media & Entertainment.
Meanwhile, Ashton Kutcher’s training for his upcoming SpaceShipTwo flight got a little messy:
He tells U.S. chat show host Ellen DeGeneres, “The zero G thing, they call it the ‘Vomit Comet’ – it’s aptly named. It’s an airplane that does these parabolas in the air. You go up, and when it starts to dive down, you’re at zero Gs and you have to take the G forces coming up.
“But vomit behaves differently in zero G. When you throw up in the vomit bag, it just kind of stays there, with you, when you’re flying.
“And apparently they sent out a memo out the day before that we weren’t supposed to drink. I didn’t get the memo. And then you’re apparently not supposed to eat before. I didn’t get that memo either.”
Rupert “I know NOTH-THING!” Murdoch’s always entertaining and occasionally reliable British tabloid, The Sun, reports the latest celebritynaut rumor: Ashton Kutcher and main squeeze Mila Kunis will honeymoon aboard Sir Richard Branson’s SpaceShipTwo next year after getting married this September, probably on a beach in St Tropez.
All this according to an anonymous pal of the Hollywood power couple:
A pal of the pair said: “They decided together they want their big day in September, probably on one of St Tropez’s beaches.
“Ashton is already going into space on Branson’s Virgin Galactic flight and he has said Mila will definitely be at his side as his honeymoon present.”
The pair agreed they want to get hitched as soon as possible while sunning themselves in St Tropez with new pals Princess Beatrice and her boyfriend Dave Clark. Ashton won’t have to pull many strings to get Mila on to the space voyage.
Dave is head of “astronaut relations” for the Virgin Galactic programme — and he got friendly with Ashton when the actor snapped up the 500th ticket for the first flights.
Great news today news from our Astronaut Relations team at Virgin Galactic: our 500th future astronaut customer has just signed up! Even better news is that number 500 is Ashton Kutcher. I gave Ashton a quick call to congratulate and welcome him. He is as thrilled as we are at the prospect of being among the first to cross the final frontier (and back!) with us and to experience the magic of space for himself.
As you can see from the video, our spaceships are not only very beautiful but are built and flying in the final stages of our exhaustive test flight program. We are guided by safety and so will ensure that everything is just as safe as it can possibly be before we start commercial services – particularly as I will be on the first commercial flight with my kids!