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.