Virgin Galactic launches first paying customers to the edge of space

[anvplayer video=”5183322″ station=”998122″]

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — After years of test flights, Virgin Galactic took its first commercial passengers to the edge of space.

The Galactic 01 flight was chartered by the Italian government, so no “space tourists” were on board. Instead, there were two Italian Air Force officers and a physician.

The crew experienced about three minutes of weightlessness before returning back to Earth.

The Italian passengers conducted experiments to look into micro-gravity – or being weightless in space – and how it impacts the body and other materials on board the craft.

Commercial flights like this one have been years in the making at Spaceport America, outside Truth or Consequences.

The successful flight is another move forward to expand space tourism. The launch comes on the heels of a yearslong billionaire space race with companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin pushing to take people to space.

Next month, Virgin Galactic plans to start commercial flights for the first of hundreds of ticket holders, who have been waiting years for their chance at visiting outer space. Those flights are expected to launch monthly after that.

The price for the 90-minute trip? Nearly half a million dollars.