Virgin Galactic Completes Profitable Flight in Massive Enhance for Area Tourism

Virgin Galactic Completes Profitable Flight in Massive Enhance for Area Tourism

"Today, for the first time in history, a crewed spaceship, built to carry private passengers, reached space", Branson said earlier in a statement.

The carrier airplane hauled the SpaceShipTwo passenger rocket plane to an altitude of about 45,000 feet (13.7 kms) and released it. Seconds later, SpaceShipTwo fired, catapulting it to more than 51 miles (82 km) above Earth, high enough for the pilots, Mark Stucky and Frederick Sturckow, to experience weightlessness and see the curvature of the planet.

As for VSS Unity itself, Virgin Galactic confirmed at 16:14 UTC that the spacecraft had landed safely at Mojave Airport, a little over 10 minutes after touching space. Aboard were test pilots Mark "Forger" Stucky and C.J Sturckow.

On the December 13 test flight, SpaceShipTwo's hybrid rocket motor burned for 60 seconds, several seconds longer than the high end of estimates of the burn time company officials gave at a briefing the day before. After a 60-second engine burn speeds the craft to almost three times the speed of sound, it continues its ascent, coasting until it reaches maximum altitude.

Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo carrier plane takes off with the SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity from Mojave Air and Space Port ahead of the fourth powered test flight of the passenger space plane on December 13, 2018. Today's mission, in fact, featured four NASA-sponsored research payloads - the first ones to make it aboard SpaceShipTwo via the agency's Flight Opportunities Program.

He also stated that, if all goes well, only a few more test flights would be needed before Virgin Galactic would be ready to shift operations to Spaceport America in New Mexico, where the company plans to perform commercial flights. They too are hoping to take their first commercial passengers in 2019.

VSS Unity
VSS Unity the Virgin Galactic space craft is hoped to be piloted into space for the first time on Thursday

Besides VSS Unity, two more SpaceShipTwo vehicles are now under construction, with the first of them expected to be completed in about a year. "It cost a very similar price to what we're spending today to put people into space", he said. A typical NASA "sounding rocket", a small rocket generally launched with equipment on board to take measurements and scientific experiments during an approximately 30-minute sub-orbital flight only, reaches anywhere from 30-80 miles above the Earth.

The 68-year-old had been emotional throughout the flight, shedding many tears and hugging his son Sam as it eventually made its way to space altitudes.

Virgin Galactic, which is focused on space tourism, aims to use SpaceShipTwo to take paying customers for a short journey to and from space.

Then, in 2014, SpaceShipTwo broke apart during a test flight by Scaled Composites when the co-pilot prematurely unlocked the "feathering" system and it began to deploy. Virgin Galactic said "At the end stages of the rocket burn in the thin air of the mesosphere and with the speeds that we expect to achieve, additional altitude is added rapidly".

Today's launch of SpaceShipTwo was an vast breakthrough in the push for privatized space travel, as well as for Virgin Group. And Blue Origin - which plans to fly tourists on an automated, vertically launched rocket - has yet to conduct a crewed flight or begin selling tickets.

More news: Champions League last-16 draw: how and where to watch

Related Articles