UPDATE 30/05 2.45PM BST: The Premium Beta has begun, welcoming more than 10,000 people to Frontier's new space game.
Elite creator and Elite: Dangerous project leader, David Braben, commented: "This is a significant and sensible step-change with which to test the next level of scaling of our cloud-based systems and servers as we move towards the very large numbers of people we will eventually have playing."
All the content added through the alpha phases is available to play, somewhat obviously. That means five solar systems to explore either super-cruising within them or hyperspace jumping between them. There's trading, pirating, hunting bounties and, you know, pretty space stuff to see.
As originally reported, accessing the Elite: Dangerous Premium Beta costs £100.
ORIGINAL STORY 10/04 12PM BST: Re-imagined and crowd-funded space game Elite: Dangerous has nearly reached a significant new milestone that you can get involved in: Premium Beta.
It starts fully on 30th May, but if you pay the required £100 today then you can download a single-player combat build of the game for practice.
A fourth alpha build will be released before then, adding travel and trading and two modes of faster-than-light travel. There are 400 billion star systems in Elite: Dangerous' Milky Way map - you'll need all the help you can get.
"The alpha process has worked well for us," said Frontier boss David Braben, creator of the original Elite. "We have gradually built out the key elements of the game, first locally, with single-player combat, then with a few thousand players across the internet.
"On 30th May we move into a new phase of Premium Beta testing, and I'm delighted to be able to welcome a significant numbers of new players to Elite: Dangerous today."