A ticket should cost around 420,000 euros. But that doesn’t bring travelers on holiday in a super luxury class. But only three hours in the air and back down. But with weightlessness.
A Virgin Galactic spacecraft is scheduled to launch space tourists into orbit in the second quarter of this year. There you can see the earth from above and experience for a few minutes what it feels like when gravity is not pulling. The company remains optimistic about meeting the launch date, according to British newspaper The Guardian.
But there are still a number of hurdles to be overcome before this can happen. One is an ongoing process in the US. Virgin Galactic investors filed a class action lawsuit there at the end of 2021, accusing billionaire Richard Branson’s company that the spacecraft were not suitable for use in space.
The background: During the first manned flight into space – in which Branson was personally on board – in July 2021, there were considerable problems – but this only became apparent afterwards. First, the plane climbed too steeply. And then the Spaceship Two also left the airspace assigned to it for almost two minutes.
This airspace is allocated to space companies so that civil aviation is not endangered. In addition, there was apparently even a risk of a crash landing – even if everything went well in the end. The investors accuse Virgin Galactic of not properly disclosing defects in the ship.
The prototypes of the Eve carrier aircraft and the Unity spaceplane were not airworthy, it said. The investors refer to internal documents. “As prototypes, Unity and Eve were so shaky that any flight could be their last,” the lawsuit states.
Cracks appeared on Eve’s wings after each flight, some were not repaired. A Virgin Galactic employee said “the wings look like cobwebs or broken eggshells.”
Virgin Galactic defends itself and states that it has always been properly informed. But a judge in New York sided at least partially with the plaintiffs. Some of Virgin Galactic’s statements regarding the February 2019 and July 2021 flights were materially misleading based on the allegations made by the plaintiffs. Founder Richard Branson in particular has been criticized.
“I note that Branson had a motive and an opportunity to testify to the success of his test flight on July 11, 2021,” the judge said. So he could have explained that not everything went well. But he didn’t.
“Branson sold over 10 million shares in August 2021 for total proceeds of nearly $300 million just weeks before it became public knowledge that Unity had risked a crash landing.” Both Eve and Unity have undergone an improvement program to improve performance of the spacecraft and improve “flight performance,” according to Virgin Galactic, according to the Guardian. The company plans to conduct test flights for Eve and then Unity later this month.
Even if there will be no conviction and around 900 people have already bought tickets for the flights into space – the shareholders have lost confidence. Virgin Galactic’s stock was worth $55 at its peak, and is currently around $5.
This article was written by Laura Frommberg
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Originally posted by aeroTelegraph: “So shaky, every flight could be your last”.