If you fancy a trip to the edge of space with Virgin Galactic but don’t quite have the $450,000 to make it happen, then how about a free flight in exchange for a small (or big) charitable donation?
Let us explain. After sending its founder Richard Branson to 282,000 feet above Earth in a recent flight to publicize its upcoming space tourism service, Virgin Galactic announced a raffle offering free seats to a winner and a guest for a future ride aboard its VSS Unity spaceplane.
To enter, all you have to do is make a donation to the Space for Humanity charity, a nonprofit aimed at increasing the accessibility of space. But you’ll have to hurry as the raffle closes on Wednesday, September 1.
“Imagine blasting off to begin an adventure that’s truly out of this world,” Branson says in a video promoting the contest.
Space is for all humanity, which is why we’re giving you the chance to win 2 seats on one of the first @virgingalactic flights to space. All donations go to non-profit @spacehumanity https://t.co/e0A7tNftHY @omaze pic.twitter.com/CMGIrcBsKY
— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) July 30, 2021
The more you donate, the greater your chance of winning the prize. In other words, a $10 donation will get you 100 entries in the raffle, while a $25 donation will secure 250 entries, and so on.
The winner of the raffle, which was organized in partnership with fundraising platform Omaze, will be announced on September 29, with the flight likely to take place early next year.
The once-in-a-lifetime experience will kick off with a carrier aircraft flying Unity to an altitude of 50,000 feet. Unity will then release from the carrier aircraft, fire up its rocket engine, and hurtle to 250,000 feet above land and sea.
For a few minutes, the passengers will be able to gawp at the incredible views, including the curvature of Earth, and also spend a few moments floating around the cabin as the spaceplane briefly escapes Earth’s gravity. Unity and the crew and passengers will then glide back to base for a conventional runway landing.
If someone else wins Virgin Galactic’s free tickets — and let’s face it that’s probably what’s going to happen — then you could wait to see how much Blue Origin is going to charge for its rival space tourism service. Like Branson, Blue Origin owner and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos also tested out the necessary hardware recently, flying in a rocket-launched capsule to a slightly higher altitude than Unity in the company’s first human mission after six years of crewless test flights.
OK, we’ll level with you here. Blue Origin’s seats are going to be pricey, too, but there is a chance the company will launch some kind of offer similar to Virgin Galactic’s. We’ll keep you posted.