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Vacation out of Earth: Virgin Galactic opens ticket sales for joyrides to edge of space. Details here

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo space plane Unity and mothership separate as they fly way above Spaceport America on the way to the cosmos. (AFP)Premium
Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo space plane Unity and mothership separate as they fly way above Spaceport America on the way to the cosmos. (AFP)

Virgin Galactic space tourism: During the 90-minute flight, passengers will reach an altitude of more than 50 miles and experience roughly four minutes of weightlessness in the spaceplane's cabin

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Virgin Galactic, which last year flew its exuberant founder Richard Branson to space, has now re-opened ticket sales for the general public for the sum of $450,000 (around 3,37,95,349). With this, general public will be able to reserve a spot on an upcoming suborbital spaceflight. Tickets will be available to 1,000 customers this year.

Previously, only people who had paid a deposit to be on a waiting list could buy new tickets -- but now sales are once more open to everyone.

During the 90-minute flight, passengers will reach an altitude of more than 50 miles and experience roughly four minutes of weightlessness in the spaceplane's cabin, from where they can also observe the Earth's curvature through 17 windows.

Space tourists will fly in company's rocket-powered vehicle, known as SpaceShipTwo Unity. It will fly to 50,000 feet, where Unity is released and its engine ignites to power it to the edge of space.

Virgin Galactic’s joyrides  to the edge of space will take off from Spaceport America in New Mexico. Reservations include several days of training and spaceflight preparedness programmes.

Established in 2004, Virgin Galactic is looking to build on the success of a test mission, which saw Branson taking a high-profile flight in July.

But Virgin has not flown since then. In October last year, it announced it was entering an "enhancement period" to make safety upgrades to its fleet, and pushed back a planned test flight with the Italian Air Force to this year.

Its target to fly its first paying individual customers towards the end of 2022 puts it behind its competition in the nascent space tourism sector -- Blue Origin and Elon Musk's SpaceX -- which have already flown commercial passengers.

As of last November, Virgin Galactic said it had sold 700 tickets. The current fare, which includes a $150,000 deposit, is well above the $200,000-$250,000 paid by some waiting 600 customers from 2005 to 2014.

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