While it seemed in big trouble a few weeks ago, space tourism company Virgin Galactic, owned by billionaire Richard Branson, is picking up paint and multiplying the announcements. In a recent press release, the company assured that the famous American researcher Kellie Gerardi would take part in a flight into space in the coming months. A somewhat surprising choice given Virgin Galactic’s marketing strategy, which aims to make a name for itself behind the two giants of New Space, SpaceX and Blue Origin. By assigning a seat to a person recognized in the social network TikTok (416,000 subscribers), Richard Branson’s company offers itself a nice advertising stunt that is necessary to find new customers for his space tourism project.
A deserved place?
It would still be wrong to believe that Gerardi’s presence in the Virgin Galactic capsule was simply due to his popularity on social networks. The 32-year-old researcher is indeed a space professional and has already made several parabolic flights that have made her the ideal candidate, with or without a TikTok account. During her flight with Virgin Galactic, she was supposed to conduct a whole series of experiments, particularly on health issues, for IIAS, the international institute for aeronautical science.
A flight for when?
As for the launch date, Virgin Galactic’s announcements remained very vague. It’s hard to say if this mission will take place next year as the 2022 timetable seems full for the UK company. One thing is for sure, the ship that Kellie Gerardi will use is not finished yet and is still going through a lot of tests on the ground so that the mission goes without the slightest problem. It is important to remember that Virgin Galactic. chooses a carrier aircraft rather than a missile, making this technology even more difficult to develop.
This technology had interested NASA engineers for a while, who never really developed this method of flight, rockets did the job perfectly. And right now, Virgin Galactic is experiencing the same setbacks. Despite a very successful test flight a few weeks ago, the company is struggling to hold out and is now falling behind in the space battle with SpaceX and Blue Origin.
Still an imperfect method of theft
This unique method of flight by Virgin Galactic into space is their greatest asset, but also their worst flaw. If carrier aircraft flights are to be much cheaper than rocket flights, reaching space remains a dangerous mission and the company’s development was halted a few months ago when a pilot was killed on a test flight. In addition, from a scientific point of view, this type of mission provides a window of experimentation in just a few minutes. That is by far not enough for the vast majority of missions, which prefer to pay a little more to be carried out on the ISS and to benefit from optimal framework conditions.