Virgin Galactic is one step closer to bringing space travel to consumers

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Beardy Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is one step closer to opening its cabin doors for business, having secured authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration to launch its rocket plane from US soil. The Virgin mogul’s space tourism outfit announced on Thursday that it has reached an agreement with the FAA that spells out how the agency will provide clear airspace for Virgin Galactic’s space missions. The company will work with the FAA’s Albuquerque Air Route Traffic Control Center and the New Mexico Spaceport Authority to coordinate its commercial flights.

It’s been a good week for space travel. Just last night, SpaceX unveiled the Dragon V2 — their very first spacecraft capable for carrying astronauts (as opposed to just cargo) to the stars. They expect to be shuttling astronauts back and forth to the International Space Station by 2017. That’s great for astronauts and all, with their many years of rigorous training… but what about you — the mere humble would-be explorer of the stars? Good news! Kind of. Depending on your definition of “mere” and “humble”. Virgin Galactic — as in, the space travel arm of Richard Branson’s many-tentacled Virgin empire — has signed an agreement with the FAA that’ll eventually allow them to launch commercial passenger spaceflights from US soil. There are a few catches, though.

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