Virgin Galactic Wants to Fly You From LA to Tokyo
When Virgin Galactic finally takes its first tourists to space, it'll just be a a stepping stone to what the company's ultimate mission is: Flying people from one place on Earth to another place on Earth, just like any other airline. Except in this version, you'll travel through space and be able to fly from Los Angeles to Tokyo in an hour.
The idea here would be to have a takeoff system somewhat similar to the midair launch the company's SpaceShipTwo has now. A large plane basically "drops" the spacecraft in midair, a hybrid rocket engine ignites, and off into space (and toward your destination) you go. A system like this would allow you to fly from the West Coat to Japan in an hour or from the United Kingdom to Australia in two hours, Virgin Galactic's CEO, George Whitesides, said last night at a company event at New York City's Museum of Natural History.
"You can imagine a SpaceShipThree or a SpaceShipFour going outside the atmosphere, then coming back down outside an urban area and landing," Whitesides said. "We don't have to accept the status quo. We can imagine a vehicle using liquid oxygen or liquid hydrogen to get us across the Pacific in an hour. You could do that."