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Virgin Galactic space flights set for this year

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Get ready for liftoff. Virgin Galactic said it hopes to start offering commercial flights into space by the second half of this year.

Virgin said it has already collected $80 million in deposits and sold 680 tickets, each costing $250,000. Full test flights are set to begin this spring.

Virgin Galactic's space plane will take off from the company's "spaceport" in New Mexico. It will climb to the upper edges of the atmosphere where travelers will experience weightlessness.

The first commercial flight will be made by the firm's founder, billionaire entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, and his family.

Virgin said it is still waiting for the Federal Aviation Administration to issue its its final commercial license. The FAA now has a special division to regulate commercial space travel.

-- CNN's Amanda Hobor contributed reporting to this story



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