Virgin Galactic Might Not Technically Get You Into Space

By Jamie Condliffe on at

A new report about Virgin Galactic has taken a look at the small print in the customer contract that Virgin Galactic will give to those who choose to fly in the most ridiculous commercial aircraft ever—and it seems that they can't promise you'll make it into space.

Even if it had the FAA permission that it requires to fly you into space—which it doesn't currently—the small print explains that Virgin will get passengers to an elevation of "at least 50 miles." That's high! Very high! But it's also some 12 miles short of the widely accepted boundary between the Earth's atmosphere and outer space—known as the Karman Line—which lies at an altitude of 62 miles.

Indeed, Virgin claims it's using NASA's 50 mile definition—but that was used in the 1960's in order to define pilots of the rocket-powered X-15 aircraft as astronauts. In contrast, these days the World Air Sports Federation, the governing body for astronautical world records, only recognises people as having travelled in space if they pass the Karman Line.

Virgin is, you'll be pleased to hear, working towards reaching those higher altitudes, according to IB Times. But for now, you can't be certain that its Galactic service will get you into space proper. [Sunday Times via IB Times]