A group of North Texans watched closely the start of Virgin Galatic’s expedition to the edge of space on Sunday.

Ken Ruffin is President of the North Texas Chapter of the National Space Societywho is committed to the exploration, development and settlement of space.

“It was such a relief,” said Ruffin. “Finally. Finally the time has come.”

Ruffin said he watched the launch before hosting the chapter’s first face-to-face meeting since before the pandemic.

“I’m not one of those billionaires investing in any of these companies, but it still got a load off my shoulders because it was successful,” said Ruffin.

Ruffin said the Virgin Galactic launch and the launches planned by other private companies later this year are just the first steps in making space more accessible.

Ruffin said that while it sounds like science fiction, scientists and engineers are working on the development of space and future colonization beyond planet Earth, and the launch on Sunday played a small but important role.

“Suborbital is just a small step that leads to bigger and better things,” said Ruffin.

Ruffin said that North Texas Chapter of the NSS aims to educate and inspire people of all ages and backgrounds about the cool and exciting things that happen to space and often gives presentations to school and community groups.