Galactic 'to send scientists to space'
Monday 28, February 2011
Virgin Galactic is set to fly scientists into space to conduct research experiments.
Richard Branson's space travel company has signed the first ever commercial contracts to fly scientists into space for research purposes.
Virgin Galactic, the world's first commercial spaceline, has signed contracts with the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), enabling new research into climate change, biology, astronomy and microgravity.
SwRI has made full deposits for two researchers to fly on Virgin Galactic's spacecraft.
An additional six seats on Virgin Galactic flights are intended to be taken by SwRI, for a total value of $1.6m.
George Whitesides, President and CEO of Virgin Galactic, said this agreement "signals the enormous scientific potential of the Virgin spaceflight system".
"Virgin Galactic will be able to offer researchers flights to space that are unprecedented in frequency and cost," he added.
"Science flights will be an important growth area for the company in the years to come, building on the strong commercial success already demonstrated by deposits received from over 400 individuals for Virgin's space experience."
Dr. Alan Stern, Associate Vice President of SwRI’s Space Division and former NASA Associate Administrator for Science, explained why SwRI are thrilled by the agreement.
He said: "Initially, two of our payload specialists will be flying on Virgin Galactic, conducting biomedical monitoring, atmospheric imaging, and microgravity planetary regolith experiments.
"We're excited to be flying with Virgin Galactic to pioneer research missions on their amazing vehicles; we look forward to the not so distant day when entire Virgin Galactic flights are filled with researchers and their experiments."
Go to Virgin Galactic to find out more about the world's first commercial spaceline.
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