1. The Birth of a Dream

    July 1969, Surrey, UK

    The Birth of a Dream

    A 19 year old Richard Branson watches the moon landings on TV with his parents and sisters and determines that he too will one day experience the wonder of space.

  2. Link 2

    Inspiration from The Past

    December 1995, Marrakesh, Morocco

    Inspiration from The Past

    While waiting for the right weather conditions to attempt a hot air balloon circumnavigation record, Richard Branson discusses with Buzz Aldrin the challenges involved in building a commercial manned space launch system. Both agree that to launch a spaceship from the air rather than the ground in much the same way as the US X15 project, could overcome some of the safety and cost issues. Richard asks the Virgin team to keep a watching brief on new space launch technology.

  3. Competitive Innovation

    May 1996 – Santa Monica CA

    Competitive Innovation

    Dr Peter Diamandis announces the X Prize (later the Ansari X Prize) of $10m for the first non-government organization to launch a reusable manned spacecraft into space twice within two weeks. Peter took as his inspiration the early 20th-century aviation prizes, and aimed to spur development of low-cost spaceflight.

  4. One Small Step

    One Small Step

    March 1999, London, UK

    One Small Step

    Following a visit to the Rotary Rocket Company project in Mojave CA, Richard Branson decides not to back the project but that it is time to formalise Virgin’s interest in the area, so registers Virgin Galactic at Companies House in London.

  5. The Search is Over

    July 2002 – Mojave CA

    The Search is Over

    The Virgin team visit Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites to plan the building of the Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer – an all carbon composite plane designed for Steve Fossett to circumnavigate the globe non-stop on a single tank of fuel. The Virgin team learnt that Burt Rutan is competing for the Ansari X Prize with an air launched space plane named SpaceShipOne. The project, named Tier One by Scaled Composites, is being financed by Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen. A short discussion with Burt and a quick phone call to Richard Branson is enough to convince the team that this could be the technology they have been waiting for.

  6. Preparing the Ground

    July 2002 – Mojave CA

    Preparing the Ground

    Virgin agrees with Paul Allen’s company, Mojave Aerospace Ventures, to licence the key SpaceShipOne design technologies with a view to building and operating a commercial version should the Tier One project win the X Prize.

  7. The World’s First Commercial Space line

    September 27th 2004, London UK

    The World’s First Commercial Space line

    Sir Richard Branson announces to a packed press conference at the Royal Aeronautical Society, that Virgin will be sponsoring SpaceShipOne’s X Prize flights and that, if successful, Virgin Galactic will finance the design and build of a fleet of commercial spacecraft by Scaled Composites that will be capable of taking thousands of people safely into space. The Virgin Galactic website is launched and future astronauts invited to register their interest. The site crashes - overwhelmed by a tide of global enthusiasm and interest.

  8. Spaceship Won!

    September 29th and October 4th 2004, Mojave CA

    Spaceship Won!

    SpaceShipOne makes two successful competitive flights, X1 on September 29, 2004 piloted by Mike Melvill to 102.9 km and X2 on October 4, 2004 piloted by Brian Binnie to 112 km. The $10m Ansari X Prize is awarded on November 6, 2004 – and of course Virgin Galactic is finally born.

  9. Gearing up for Commercial Operations

    July 2005, Oshkosh WI

    Gearing up for Commercial Operations

    Sir Richard Branson and Burt Rutan announce the formation of The Spaceship Company, a Virgin Galactic majority owned joint venture with Scaled Composites which will be the manufacturing company for the new fleet of spaceships (SpaceShipTwo’s) and launch aircraft (WhiteKnightTwo’s). They also announce that rather than build commercial replicas of SpaceShipOne, the new spaceships will be able to accommodate six Astronauts and two pilots and be big enough to allow for an out of seat zero gravity experience as well as plenty of large windows for the amazing views back to Earth. SpaceShipOne also makes its last flight attached to WhiteKnightOne before taking pride of place at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington DC.

  10. Virgin Galactic Boarding Call

    August 2005, London

    Virgin Galactic Boarding Call

    Virgin Galactic starts to accept refundable deposits from Founder customers at $200,000 a ticket and collects $10m in a matter of weeks. The deposits will not be used until FAA Certification to fund the project but are vital proof that a large and vibrant market for space tourism exists. The first appointments of Accredited Space Agents are made – fast to become a global network of premier travel professionals with exclusive rights to market and sell Virgin Galactic reservations.

  11. A Spaceport in the Desert

    December 2005, Las Cruces, New Mexico

    A Spaceport in the Desert

    At press conferences in London and New Mexico, Virgin Galactic and officials from the State of New Mexico announce an agreement which will see the building of a State funded $200m spaceport in the southern part of New Mexico on a 27 square mile area of State land to be named Spaceport America. Virgin Galactic will locate its world headquarters and Mission Control at Spaceport America in a landmark architecture facility.

  12. Welcome Aboard

    January 2006, New York

    Welcome Aboard

    Wired Magazine's NextFest annual technology and innovations exhibition in New York provides the setting for the unveiling of the conceptual interior of SpaceShipTwo to the worlds press in a blaze of media coverage.

  13. September 2007, Las Cruces, New Mexico

    September 2007, Las Cruces, New Mexico

    September 2007, Las Cruces, New Mexico

    Uk’s Foster Partners wins an international competition to build the world’s first private spaceport - Spaceport America. The sinuous shape of the building and its interior spaces seek to capture the drama and mystery of space flight itself. Designed to have minimal embodied carbon and few additional energy requirements, the scheme has been designed to achieve the prestigious LEED Platinum accreditation.

  14. The Right Stuff

    December 2007, Philadelphia PA

    The Right Stuff

    Sir Richard Branson completes his G-Force training at the NASTAR centrifuge facility in Philadelphia along with his son Sam – both will be on the inaugural commercial flight of SpaceShipTwo.

    Their “flights? are part of a unique training exercise involving around 100 of Virgin Galactic’s first customers to better understand the health and fitness requirements that will be required for the spaceflights themselves. The group ranged in age from 18 to 88 and covered a wide variety of medical histories and conditions. The results show that the Right Stuff is more common than we had been led to believe - age is not a consideration and the vast majority of reasonably fit and healthy people will be able to take the trip to space and back without any problem.

  15. The Year of the Spaceship

    January 2008, New York

    The Year of the Spaceship

    Sir Richard Branson and Burt Rutan unveil large models showing the final designs for Virgin Galactic’s space launch system now in an advanced state of construction at Scaled Composite’s facility in California. The radical and ambitious designs will maximise the customer experience and extend the range of applications available from space tourism, to space science and small satellite launch.

  16. The Dawning of “Eve”

    July 2008, Mojave CA

    The Dawning of “Eve?

    Several hundred press, Virgin Galactic Future Astronauts and VIP guests make their way to the Mojave desert to see the dawning of a new age and milestone in aeronautical history, as the first WhiteKnightTwo air launch vehicle is unveiled for the very first time. Christened Virgin Mother Ship (VMS) Eve by Richard Branson’s mother, this is the largest all carbon composite aviation vehicle ever built and the most fuel efficient of its size. It has a unique capability to carry heavy payloads to high altitude and can carry out high G manoeuvres which will make it an ideal training platform for prospective astronauts.

  17. Up and Away!

    December 2008, Mojave CA

    Up and Away!

    In the early hours and clear skies of a Mojave morning, VMS Eve leaves the runway for the first time and climbs easily and gracefully away over the snow clad mountains. Test pilot Pete Seibold is ecstatic with her performance and reports back a flawless first flight.

  18. The Netscape Moment for Private Space

    July 2009, Oshkosh WI

    The Netscape Moment for Private Space

    Sir Richard Branson prepares for his first flight aboard VMS Eve and announces a new partnership with Abu Dhabi based Sovereign Wealth Fund, Aabar Investments.

    The deal will see Aabar investing $280m and taking a 32% stake in Virgin Galactic’s business. An option on a further $100m is allocated by Aabar for the development of a small satellite launch vehicle pending a feasibility study.

  19. VSS Enterprise Revealed

    7th December 2009, Mojave CA

    The Netscape Moment for Private Space

    On a cold and windy Mojave evening, over 800 of the world’s media, invited guests and VIP’s including Governors Schwarzenegger and Richardson, join Sir Richard Branson and Burt Rutan to herald the dawn of a new era.

    In a dramatic unveil, Virgin Galactic’s first SpaceShipTwo emerges from the darkness attached to her Mothership, VMS Eve, to a fabulous light and music show. Holly Branson, Sir Richard’s daughter, along with the two Governors perform the naming ceremony of the world’s first commercial manned spaceship - Virgin Spaceship Enterprise. The spaceship is now ready to commence an exhaustive test flight program prior to the start of full commercial operations.

  20. VSS Enterprise takes to the sky!

    22nd March 2010

    The Netscape Moment for Private Space

    On 22nd March 2010, VSS Enterprise, the world’s first commercial manned spaceship leaves Terra Firma for the first time and performs a flawless maiden flight attached the VMS Eve Mothership. The flight lasts just short of three hours and both vehicles climb to an altitude of 45,000ft (13716m)

  21. First Manned Glide Flight

    10th October 2010

    The Netscape Moment for Private Space

    VSS Enterprise achieves manned free flight from over 45,000 ft (13,700 metres) and successfully glides to land at Mojave Air and Spaceport.

  22. Spaceport America Runway Dedication

    22nd October 2010

    The Netscape Moment for Private Space

    The New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) recently dedicated the newly completed nearly two-mile long Governor Bill Richardson Spaceway at Spaceport America, representing significant progress towards launching commercial customers into space from the desert of New Mexico.

  23. First Feathered Flight

    4th May 2011

    First Feathered Flight

    SpaceshipTwo is released from WhiteKnightTwo at 51,500ft and for the first time tests and demonstrates its unique feathered re-entry system. The test meets all objectives and after re-feathering to the normal glide configuration, SpaceShipTwo makes a smooth touchdown at Mojave Air and Spaceport.

  24. Keys to a New Dawn, Spaceport Dedication

    17 October 2011

    First Feathered Flight

    Sir Richard Branson and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez recently dedicated the 'Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space' at Spaceport America, New Mexico. 700 guests gathered to celebrate the occasion and view the demonstration flight by VMS Eve and VSS Enterprise. A stunning surprise performance by Project Bandaloop with Sir Richard and kids, Sam and Holly completed the day.

  25. LauncherOne Announced

    11 July 2012


    Virgin Galactic reveals a new, funded development program: LauncherOne - a low cost, highly flexible small satellite launch vehicle.

  26. First Rocket Powered Flight

    April 2013, Mojave CA


    SpaceShipTwo achieved Mach 1.22 during its first rocket powered flight, becoming the first commercial vehicle since the Concorde to break the speed of sound. This important milestone officially marks Virgin Galactic's entrance into the final phase of vehicle testing prior to commercial service from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

Learn more about the journey of Virgin Galactic by using the above time-line. Scroll through the years and roll over the images to reveal our milestone events and click on the event titles to reveal more information. To find out more about the key areas of this remarkable project check out the other overview sections: Safety, Spaceships, Spaceport, Training, Space Tickets, Experience & Environment.

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