Virgin Galactic and the New Space Race: A Look at the Space Act Agreement
The space race has been heating up in recent years, with private companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin leading the charge. But there’s another player in the game that’s been quietly making strides in the field of space tourism: Virgin Galactic.
Founded by billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic aims to make space travel more accessible to the general public. The company’s goal is to offer suborbital spaceflights to paying customers, with the ultimate vision of eventually offering trips to orbit and beyond.
To achieve this vision, Virgin Galactic has been working closely with the US government. In 2015, the company signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA, which allows them to access the agency’s research facilities and expertise. This agreement has been instrumental in helping Virgin Galactic develop its spacecraft and propulsion systems.
But the Space Act Agreement is just one part of Virgin Galactic’s partnership with the US government. The company has also been working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to obtain the necessary licenses and approvals to operate commercial spaceflights. In 2019, Virgin Galactic became the first commercial space company to receive FAA approval to fly passengers to space.
Despite these milestones, Virgin Galactic has faced setbacks along the way. In 2014, the company’s original spacecraft, SpaceShipTwo, crashed during a test flight, killing one pilot and injuring another. The accident set the company back several years, but they persevered and continued to work towards their goal.
In 2018, Virgin Galactic unveiled a new version of SpaceShipTwo, called VSS Unity, which has since completed successful test flights. The company is now gearing up for its first commercial spaceflight, which is expected to take place in 2022.
As the space race heats up, Virgin Galactic’s partnership with the US government will be more important than ever. The company’s success will not only pave the way for commercial space tourism, but it will also help the US maintain its dominance in space exploration.
In conclusion, Virgin Galactic’s Space Act Agreement with NASA is just one example of the company’s commitment to innovation and collaboration. As the company prepares to launch its first commercial spaceflight, it’s clear that Virgin Galactic is well on its way to making space travel accessible to the masses. And with the support of the US government, the sky is truly the limit.