LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — We are one step closer to making space travel commercially available.
On Sunday, Sir Richard Branson and his Virgin Galactic team launched into space for a flight test and to showcase the private astronaut experience.
This is a new type of space race, where private companies are working to bring tourists up to the stars.
For one local man, this is bringing him one step closer to fulfilling a life-long dream.
Since childhood, Ken Baxter has wanted to go to space.
“I was interested in rockets from the beginning,” Baxter said. “It’s going to be very exciting, to be able to go down and go up to outer space and look back at the earth. I can’t wait.”
In 2004, Baxter bought the first civilian ticket for $200,000.
In 2012, 8 News Now checked in with Baxter when Virgin Galactic was initially granted an experimental launch permit.
“The excitement of going to outer space is really second to none,” Baxter said.
Now, following Virgin Galactic’s successful flight on Sunday, that dream is now inching closer.
“It’s going to be so exciting you will not believe it,” Baxter said. “I can’t wait for it, let’s get it done, and let’s see all the other people coming to get on the team here.”
The “Unity 22” mission was the first to carry a full crew, including pilots, specialists and Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson.
“To all you kids down there, I was once a child with a dream looking up to the stars,” said Sir Richard Branson. “Now I’m an adult in a spaceship!”
The team was launched to an altitude of about 50 miles where they experienced weightlessness and incredible views of earth.
Two more test flights are scheduled before Virgin Galactic expects to launch commercial services next year and usher in the era of space tourism.
“To the next generation of dreamers, if we can do this, just imagine what you can do,” Branson said.
This historic flight is happening just days before another private company goes to space. Fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos will launch his “Blue Origins” spaceship on July 20.