A little after 10:00 a.m. EST – 7:00 a.m. local time – on December 13, 2018, a spacecraft fires off its rocket and shoots upwards. Then, miles above the Earth, Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity carries human beings into space. And it’s the first time that the company has ever sent a flight this high.
Established in 2004, Virgin Galactic is the space-travel division of the Virgin Group. Its purpose is to create commercial spaceships, so that it can send customers on suborbital journeys and conduct scientific investigations. It also plans to take human beings into orbit eventually, although progress has been slower than originally hoped.
Virgin Galactic’s stated mission shows grand ambition, as it speaks of striving to become “the Spaceline for Earth.” The company claims that it hopes to use space for humanity’s benefit, seeing it as likely to provide solutions to some of the difficulties that life on Earth faces. But at the same time, it also recognizes the importance of giving customers a great time.