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One half of the company that started as an April Fool's Day joke by Google for 2008 called Project Virgle, Virgin Galactic is a real company that is attempting to bring affordable space travel to the masses now.
Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group wholly owns and operates the company, and has worked with New Mexico's government to put through legislation establishing the world's first commercial spaceport in the New Mexico desert. The spaceport is to be built by the state of New Mexico, of a design co-developed with Virgin Galactic, and will be run under the model of current airports, with Virgin Galactic leasing space from the spaceport for ticketing, takeoff, and landing use.
The spaceship that will be used is a descendant of the Ansari X-Prize winning design by Burt Rutan of Scaled Composites. Virgin Galactic is the sole licensee of his design, and several members of Scaled Composites have been given prominent positions in Virgin Galactic.
With Virgin Galactic's support, the prototype that first won the X Prize and Virgin Group's attention has been updated and refined into the current WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo, which recently had its first production run finish with the Eve and the VSS Enterprise. Virgin Galactic is currently performing safety tests with their newly constructed space ship, and is scheduled to begin commercial flights late in 2009. First flight tickets have already been sold, and cost $200,000 USD each, but after the first three rounds of flights, ticket prices are scheduled to fall to $20,000 USD, which represent 10% and 1% respectively of the average government-run space ticket of $2 million USD. Virgin Galactic hopes to eventually drop the price to a level equivalent to a luxury boat cruise.
Relation to Virgle and OpenVirgle
A video by sir Richard Branson on the Virgle joke site lent it a large part of its believability before it was made public that Virgle was a joke. Efforts continue by OpenVirgle senior membership (Doram) to contact Virgin and Google to confirm/deny OpenVirgle's right to use the name, and in the hopes of future collaboration, especially with Virgin Galactic.
Statistics from Wikipedia
|company name||Virgin Galactic|
|company logo||Image hosted at Wikipedia|
|company slogan||Space is Virgin territory|
|location||New Mexico, USA|
|key people|| Richard Branson(UK)|
|number of employees||30|