Virgin Galactic gets back in the space race

Virgin Galactic unveils new SpaceShipTwo 02:34

Virgin Galactic is one step closer to their goal of sending tourists to outer space.

The company revealed their new spaceship, the Unity, Friday in Mojave, California, which could be the future of private space travel, helping ordinary citizens become astronauts, reports CBS News correspondent Carter Evans.

"Together we can make space accessible in a way that has only been dreamt of before now, and by doing that we can truly bring positive change to life on Earth," said Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson.

Branson's 1-year-old granddaughter christened the ship Friday at the star-studded event.

Richard Branson on spaceship crash investigat... 04:37

Unlike SpaceX and Blue Origin that are testing reusable rockets to move humans and cargo, Branson is focused solely on tourism. The shuttle is designed to detach from an airplane, turn on its rocket engine and blast into sub-orbital space.

From 50 miles above Earth, passengers will be able to experience a few minutes of weightlessness. Seven-hundred people have already put down deposits of $250,000 to reserve their seats.

"Inside her spacious cabin, hearts and minds will be transformed by the unique experiences that touches those who step away from Earth's bounds and see our planet for the first time with their own eyes and in a new light," Branson said.

Federal investigators examine Virgin Galactic... 01:28

But amid the celebration, the event also took a somber tone as the company addressed the deadly test flight in 2014. An NTSB investigation revealed the pilot unlocked part of the re-entry system too early. The company says the new ship has more fail-safes to prevent pilot error.

Branson said he questioned continuing the program after the crash but felt that it was too important to walk away.

"What a great testament this spaceship is to what can be achieved against any background, when true teamwork, great skill and deep pride are combined with a common purpose," Branson said.