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Virgin Galactic signals the age of space tourism

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 01:55s - Published < > Embed
Virgin Galactic signals the age of space tourism

Virgin Galactic signals the age of space tourism

A Virgin Galactic rocket plane reached space on Thursday and returned safely to the California desert, capping off years of difficult testing to become the first U.S. commercial human flight to reach space since America's shuttle program ended in 2011.

Jane Lanhee Lee reports.

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Virgin Galactic signals the age of space tourism

Space tourism is now one step closer to becoming a reality, after the successful test flight from billionaire Richard Branson's space travel company Virgin Galactic.

The Virgin passenger spacecraft became the first U.S. commercial flight with humans aboard to reach space since America's shuttle program ended in 20-11.

The SpaceShipTwo spacecraft took off Thursday morning from the Mojave Air and Space Port about 90 miles north of Los Angeles.

And Branson watched with hundreds of spectators.

(NAT OF LAUGHTER) Cheering and tearing up as the rocket reached an apex of 51.4 miles above earth.

The plane reentered the atmosphere at 2.5 times the speed of sound and landed a few minutes later.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) VIRGIN GALACTIC FOUNDER, RICHARD BRANSON, SAYING: "My best guess is that I'll be in space within a few months from now (FLASH)Once they're a hundred percent sure that every box is ticked, then I plan to go up.

And then we have 700 people who've signed up to go into space and we'll start sending those people to space." The flight had two pilots onboard as well as a mannequin named Annie as a stand-in passenger.

The rocket was high enough for the pilots to experience weightlessness and see the curvature of the planet.

Billionaire businessmen from Branson, to Jeff Bezos to Elon Musk have been racing to offer space tourism to the wealthy.

Musk's SpaceX already hooked Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa to be the company's first passenger on a trip around the moon on its Big Falcon Rocket spaceship, tentatively scheduled for 2023.

Among those already signed up for For Virgin Galactic, actor Leonardo DiCaprio and pop star Justin Bieber.

It will cost them $250 grand for a 90 minute thrill ride that could kick off as early as next year.

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