Richard Branson Gets Virgin Back in the Space Game With Sleek New Galactic SpaceShip

The space travel industry suffered a setback in 2014 when a test pilot died during a flight.

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Following the 2014 death of a Virgin Galactic SpaceShip pilot during a test flight, Richard Branson's dream of readily available (at $250,000 a ticket) recreational space flight endured the massive setback by heading back to the drawing board. "With regard to the accident specifically," Will Pomerantz, Virgin Galactic's Vice President of Special Projects, tells Wired. "We have made one structural change to the vehicle." That change, says Pomerantz, prevents the "featherlock system" from being accidentally opened in the middle of a flight.

"When we are confident we can safely carry our customers to space, we will start doing so," the company promised in a press release earlier this week. "We feel incredibly honored that our earliest paying customers already number more than the total number of humans who have ever been to space." If that sounds like a brag, that's because it most certainly is. However, the Virgin Galactic team has most certainly earned the right to shed some humility.

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Branson's plans, according to ABC 6, include the eventual development and utilization of space launchers. The adventurous Virgin CEO, however, is far from alone in his space endeavors. Tesla boss Elon Musk, for one, has enjoyed recent successes (and his own share of setbacks) with his team's SpaceX technology.

If $250,000 for a five-minute zero gravity seems a bit steep, increased competition from SpaceX and other star-seeking tech giants should help bring that haul down to a more reasonable (though likely still in the thousands) figure. While we wait, we can fill our brains with the imagery conjured by Branson's next great hope:

An actual space hotel.

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