The trip will cost you £130,000. Virgin Galactic plans daily trips starting next year.
Once released from the mother ship, the spaceship drops away to a safe distance, where the pilot ignites the rocket motor, using two cockpit switches. With an unthrottled shriek, the rocket-plane shudders to full thrust within a tenth of a second, its nose pointed straight up to where the air thins towards the edge of space. At the instant of ignition, the passengers are thrown back into their seats with the full force of 3G, like being hurled against a brick wall. It’s 12 seconds to the sound barrier, 30 to Mach 2; within a minute, the spacecraft is travelling at 4,800kph.
“You’ll feel all the effects of what an astronaut goes through going to orbit,” says Steve Isakowitz, Galactic’s chief technical officer, an aerospace engineer and former administrator at Nasa. “The noise, the vibration, the acceleration, are almost the same as if you were sitting there in the Space Shuttle trying to go up to orbit.”