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Traveling to space is a dream come true for many people. There are only six hundred certified astronauts, some of which have never experienced an actual trip to space. Space travel is for an elite group. Richard Branson wants to make the elite experience possible for anyone that decides to make the trip. He created Virgin Galactic to accomplish this goal.

If you take a Virgin Galactic flight, you will spend two and a half to three hours in flight. The entire duration of the flight will not be in space.

In this article, you will learn about how long a Virgin Galactic flight is. You will also learn what to expect during the flight.

How Long is The Flight?

When you fly on a Virgin Galactic commercial space vehicle, you can expect to spend close to three hours on the flight. You must understand you will not be in space for the entire three-hour flight.  The most time-consuming portions of the flight are the ascent and descent. When you reach the maximum altitude of fifty-five miles above the surface of the earth, individuals will experience five minutes of weightlessness before the descent begins. (Source: Bis Space)

Why Does the Trip Take so Long?

You may be wondering why the trip to space takes so long when the window of zero gravity is so small. Virgin Galactic is a commercial space vehicle. It cannot spend a prolonged period in a zero-gravity zone.

The top speed of a commercial space vehicle with Virgin Galactic is 2,500 miles per hour (Source: Tech Crunch).  For NASA, the maximum speed of a space shuttle is 17,500 miles per hour. NASA needs to create shuttles that travel at this rate of speed so they can stay in orbit (Source: NASA).  Commercial space vehicles do not need to maintain an orbital speed, which makes a slower speed acceptable.

What do You Experience During the Flight?

Two and a half to three hours on a flight is quite long, so you may be wondering what you will experience if you take a Virgin Galactic Flight. You should know that your personal experience may vary from the rest of the crew around you, but there will be similarities.

Ascent: The ascent will likely be both exhilarating and nerve-inducing parts of the entire flight. During this time, the space vehicle will accelerate to three times the speed of sound as it moves to the height where the passenger vehicle can be released to move to the location of weightlessness.

Pause: The pause in flight is the most anticipated part of the flight. This is when the space vehicle reaches the apex of the flight, and you will find yourself in zero gravity. The time spent here is very minimal and only lasts for five minutes. During that time, you will be able to float around the vehicle and take in the view of the earth’s curve.

Descent:  The space vehicle is created to make a slow descent back to the earth. Even though this descent is much slower than that of a NASA shuttle, the passengers will still experience the effects of re-entry. It has been determined that passengers will experience six times the normal weight of gravity during re-entry. (Source: Newsweek)

Concerns After the Flight

Going to space is a physically demanding experience, so you may be wondering what after-flight effects there may be. Astronauts usually go through a lengthy process upon landing before they exit the shuttle How is this impact felt after a commercial space flight?

Because commercial space travel is such a new concept, there are not wide studies to determine the after-effects of travel. There are no known long-term physical effects, but there are concerns about the mental impacts that may be caused.

Altered Perspective

Many astronauts that have spent time in outer space report the mental impacts the trip had on them. They often described the time in space as surreal. When they returned to earth there was a sense of disconnect. The experience of feeling connected to the world from space is something that cannot be replicated.  (Source: Fast Company)

Commercial space travel is much different than research space travel. The likelihood of negative mental impacts is low but worth consideration. Virgin Galactic helps prepare passengers for this experience in the three-day training before the flight.

Final Thoughts

A flight with Virgin Galactic may only be 3 hours long, but the experience and memories are sure to last much longer than that. The five minutes spent in zero gravity is well worth the investment of money and time.