Skip to comments.Virgin Galactic's first commercial spaceship to test-fly this year
Posted on 02/28/2012 11:31:21 PM PST by xzins
Virgin Galactic, an offshoot of Richard Branson's Virgin Group, is planning to test-fly its first spaceship beyond the Earth's atmosphere this year, with commercial suborbital passenger service to follow in 2013 or 2014, company officials have announced.
Nearly 500 customers have signed up for rides on SpaceShipTwo, a six-passenger, two-pilot spaceship being built and tested by Scaled Composites, an aerospace company founded by aircraft designer Burt Rutan and now owned by Northrop Grumman.
The suborbital flights, which cost 200,000 dollars per person, are designed to reach an altitude of about 68 miles, giving fliers a few minutes to experience zero gravity and glimpse Earth set against the blackness of space.
"In the suborbital area, there are a lot of things to be done. This is an area that has been essentially absent for about four decades," the Telegraph quoted Neil Armstrong, who was a test pilot for the 1960s-era X-15 research plane before becoming a U.S. astronaut and commander of the first mission to land on the moon, as saying.
"There's a lot of opportunities," Armstrong told about 400 people attending the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference in Palo Alto, California.
"I certainly hope that some of the new approaches will prove to be profitable and useful," he said.
Virgin Galactic is the most visible of a handful of companies developing spaceships for tourism, research, educational and business purposes.
SpaceShipTwo, the first of Virgin's planned five-ship fleet, has completed 31 atmospheric test flights - 15 attached to its carrier aircraft WhiteKnightTwo, and 16 glide tests, William Pomerantz, Virgin Galactic's vice president of special projects, said in a speech to the conference.
Preparations for the ship's first rocket-powered flights are under way at Scaled Composites' Mojave, Calif., plant and expected to take place this year.
"We hope to have the rocket motor in the spaceship later this year and start powered flight testing," Virgin Galactic chief test pilot David Mackay told the conference.
"We would like to be the first to do this, but we're not in a race with anyone. This is not a Cold War-era space race," he added.
Pomerantz told reporters later "We flow pretty quickly from first powered flight to first flight to space and then it's not terribly long from there until we have our first commercial flight to space."
He said passenger service could begin in 2013 or 2014, depending on the results of the test flights and other factors, such as pilot training. (ANI)
I’d like to be their 1000th customer.
I didn’t now that Burt sold Scaled Composites to Grumman. Geez, what a haul that must have been! Good for you Burt. Now if I can get Newt to find the time to sit down with him and be educated on his research of the phoney AGW issue.
I want Newt as President, OK? But if the guy has a flaw is that he cannot be taught much, since he already knows everything. While it's true that he knows more than most, he is your basic History major when it comes to basic technology, never mind science.
This is a the fatal flaw in many politicos. They rule on auto emissions for example, but none of them looks as if they might so much as change a spark plug or top off the brake fluid. Forget about Carbon emissions! It leaves them wide open to left-wing pseudo-scientific nutjobs who influence policy to our everlasting detriment. Queen Elizabeth can grind valves, set points, knows about old-time carburetors. The Mombasa MF? He needs Reggie to turn on his I-Pad. Bush I sold oil field equipment, Bush II flew the F-102, but neither of them had a effective thought on energy (oil) policy. Where are our nuclear generating plants? We get the same percentage of power from nuclear sources as ...Rumania!
Please God, a President who knows a gudgeon from a pintle.