Imagine a view of Lake Tahoe from a Virgin Galactic spaceship

“I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole earth affords,” Mark Twain said of Lake Tahoe. Since then, millions of visitors have enjoyed views of the lake from the shoreline, from boats and from airplanes.

Imagine viewing the Lake from outer space. Space tourism will make that a reality.

Space tourism is one step closer to becoming a reality as Virgin Galactic unveiled its new SpaceShipTwo this month. The rollout ceremony in Mojave, CA, was attended by Sir Richard Branson and his family, Virgin Galactic’s future astronauts, and partners. Professor Stephen Hawking named the new vehicle Virgin Spaceship (VSS) Unity via a recorded speech and said, “I would be very proud to fly on this spaceship.”

Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson said, “Together, we can make space accessible in a way that has only been dreamt of before now, and by doing so can bring positive change to life on Earth. Our beautiful new spaceship, VSS Unity, is the embodiment of that goal and will provide us with an unprecedented body of experience which will in turn lay the foundations for Virgin Galactic’s future.”

Seeing private space travel as a reality, early adopters began making reservations for flights, providing vital and tangible proof of a readily available market at a commercially realistic price. To date, nearly 700 people from around the world have secured reservations to fly on SpaceShipTwo.

SpaceShipTwo (SS2):
• Designed to carry two pilots and up to six passengers.
• Total independent flight time: Approximately 30 minutes.
• Zero gravity phase – Several minutes of out-of-seat time.
• Velocity: Supersonic within eight seconds of rocket ignition with a maximum velocity of
more than Mach 3.5.

—Virgin Galactic

(Photo of Lake Tahoe from outer space by NASA)

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