Space

NBC to televise first Virgin Galactic commercial flight

NBC to televise first Virgin G...
VSS Enterprise during its recent supersonic test flight
VSS Enterprise during its recent supersonic test flight
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Sir Richard Branson with VSS Enterprise
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Sir Richard Branson with VSS Enterprise
Sir Richard and his daughter Holly inspecting VSS Enterprise
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Sir Richard and his daughter Holly inspecting VSS Enterprise
VSS Enterprise uses a hybrid ricket motor
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VSS Enterprise uses a hybrid ricket motor
Passengers aboard VSS Enterprise will enjoy several minutes of weighlessness
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Passengers aboard VSS Enterprise will enjoy several minutes of weighlessness
Flight profile for SpaceShipTwo, AKA VSS Enterprise
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Flight profile for SpaceShipTwo, AKA VSS Enterprise
SpaceShipTwo's technical details
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SpaceShipTwo's technical details
Artist's concept of SpaceShipTwo feathering
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Artist's concept of SpaceShipTwo feathering
Artist's concept of SpaceShipTwo being dropped from WhiteKnightTwo
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Artist's concept of SpaceShipTwo being dropped from WhiteKnightTwo
Artist's concept of SpaceShipTwo
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Artist's concept of SpaceShipTwo
Rendering of SpaceShipTwo's interior
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Rendering of SpaceShipTwo's interior
VSS Enterprise attached to VMS Eve
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VSS Enterprise attached to VMS Eve
A ticket aboard VSS Enterprise costs US$250,000
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A ticket aboard VSS Enterprise costs US$250,000
VSS Enterprise rolling out
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VSS Enterprise rolling out
VSS Enterprise in glide tests
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VSS Enterprise in glide tests
VSS Enterprise may launch next August
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VSS Enterprise may launch next August
VSS Enterprise in glide approach
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VSS Enterprise in glide approach
VSS Enterprise landing
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VSS Enterprise landing
Sir Richard Branson at the Farnborough Air Show
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Sir Richard Branson at the Farnborough Air Show
VSS Enterpise on its 100th test flight
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VSS Enterpise on its 100th test flight
VSS Enterprise's launch will be televised by NBCUniversal
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VSS Enterprise's launch will be televised by NBCUniversal
VSS Enterprise during its recent supersonic test flight
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VSS Enterprise during its recent supersonic test flight

NBCUniversal has signed an exclusive partnership with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic to televise the space tourism company's first commercial passenger flight. Expected to take place next August, the flight will covered in a special three-hour edition of the US NBC network's Today program. Aboard the VSS Enterprise, will be Sir Richard, age 63, and his children, Holly, 31, and Sam, 28. The other passengers and crew have not yet been named.

NBCUniversal will track the final development of the Enterprise over the coming months and the flight itself will be broadcast and streamed across multiple NBCUniversal platforms, including MSNBC, CNBC, SYFY, the Weather Channel and NBCNews.com. There will also be a primetime special on NBC the night before the launch.

“Without a doubt, Sir Richard and his children taking the first commercial flight into space will go down in history as one of the most memorable events on television,” says Sharon Scott, President and General Manager, Peacock Productions. “Through NBCUniversal’s multiple platforms and overseas network partners, viewers from around the world will get to experience this where were you moment; we’re extremely honored to chronicle Sir Richard’s journey and live launch into space.”

Sir Richard and his daughter Holly inspecting VSS Enterprise
Sir Richard and his daughter Holly inspecting VSS Enterprise

“Virgin Galactic is thrilled that NBCUniversal will join us on our exciting first journey to space,” says Sir Richard. “In this first chapter of commercial space travel, we will help make space accessible and inspire countless more people to join us in the pursuit of space exploration and science innovation.”

Though the first flight is scheduled for August, flight testing may cause delays. "They are hoping for August, but it's completely engineering-driven," Says Scott. "There's no guarantee for that. August is the desire."

If all goes according to schedule, the VSS Enterprise will take off from Galactic’s terminal at Spaceport America in New Mexico slung beneath the WhiteKnightTwo mothership named VMS Eve. After being dropped by the mothership at 50,000 ft, VSS Enterprise will fire its hybrid rocket motor and carry its six passengers and two crew to an altitude of 68 mi (110 km) on a suborbital trajectory.

Once in space, the passengers will be free to leave their seats to enjoy several minutes of weightlessness before returning to Earth in an unpowered glide.

The price of the trip is US$250,000 per person, and Virgin Galactic says it has already accepted roughly US$80 million in deposits from about 640 customers.

Sources: Virgin Galactic, NBCUniversal

9 comments
Paul Adams
Truly inspiring, really hope it's a huge success.
Smitty Jl
What a monumental step towards a new era of space exploration. Breaking the strangle hold of the elitist NASA and the gov by finally privatizing space flight. Best wishes to Sir Richard and the other companies involved in privatizing space travel.
thoma7329
Ok so space is generally accepted at 62 miles above sea level and they are suppose to go to 68 miles up. I guess it will be better than nothing if you have $250K.
Don Duncan
Yes, yes, yes. The first private step into space. I wish I were just being born.
Stephen N Russell
Now this will kick Commercial Manned Space into High Gear
Schuyler19
This is truly amazing, and will certainly be historic. but you will only have a few minutes in space? so much for a weekend honey-moon.
Rafael Kireyev
It seems that there is already a need for another couple of such companies. Competition is the engine of progress which is also able to lower the altitude of the sky-high prices.
Gregg Eshelman
If something went wrong with the carrier craft to cause the separate elevators to move in opposing directions, the results would not be good. How much twist can the center wing section withstand?
Bigbrother Iswatchingu
Will not be long anymore before many International flights will go through space and the aircraft instead of flying to destination will be waiting for the Earth to revolve to the location the aircraft is in space. So don't go spending your money if you can wait another 10 years or so.