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When will Virgin Galactic's first paid flight occur?
In April 2017, Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, expressed hope that the commercial spaceflight company would begin sending passengers to space, himself included, by the end of 2018.
His statement comes nine years after the WhiteKnight Two powered mothership aircraft was unveiled and three years after a fatal crash of a SpaceShip Two glider craft in the Mojave Desert. After multiple announced launch timelines by Branson have come and gone, Branson's mother quipped that "It's always 'the end of the year.'"
The company is making progress, however. The FAA granted a commercial space launch test license in August 2016 - but not yet a license to carry passengers. And in May 2017, SpaceShip Two successfully tested the "feather" air braking position of its wings, which had been accidentally mis-deployed in the 2014 crash. Hundreds of passengers have already paid the six-figure ticket price, and are waiting for their turn to travel to space.
When will SpaceShip Two's first passenger flight occur?
This question will resolve as positive when a credible news outlet or corporate press release reports that SpaceShip Two crossed the Karman line into space carrying at least one paying non-pilot passenger, and safely returned to the ground.
Metaculus help: Predicting
Predictions are the heart of Metaculus. Predicting is how you contribute to the wisdom of the crowd, and how you earn points and build up your personal Metaculus track record.
The basics of predicting are very simple: move the slider to best match the likelihood of the outcome, and click predict. You can predict as often as you want, and you're encouraged to change your mind when new information becomes available. With tachyons you'll even be able to go back in time and backdate your prediction to maximize your points.
The displayed score is split into current points and total points. Current points show how much your prediction is worth now, whereas total points show the combined worth of all of your predictions over the lifetime of the question. The scoring details are available on the FAQ.
Note: this question resolved before its original close time. All of your predictions came after the resolution, so you did not gain (or lose) any points for it.
Note: this question resolved before its original close time. You earned points up until the question resolution, but not afterwards.
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Metaculus help: Community Stats
Use the community stats to get a better sense of the community consensus (or lack thereof) for this question. Sometimes people have wildly different ideas about the likely outcomes, and sometimes people are in close agreement. There are even times when the community seems very certain of uncertainty, like when everyone agrees that event is only 50% likely to happen.
When you make a prediction, check the community stats to see where you land. If your prediction is an outlier, might there be something you're overlooking that others have seen? Or do you have special insight that others are lacking? Either way, it might be a good idea to join the discussion in the comments.