Mach 1.2: Virgin Galactic

 

The world’s first commercial spaceline, Virgin Galactic, has gone supersonic. Owned by entrepreneur extraordinaire, Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s aabar Investments PJS, Virgin Galactic completed its first rocket powered flight test. On April 29, the SpaceShipTwo (SS2) took off from Mojave Air and SpacePort at 7:02a.m. Mated to WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) and after 45 minute into the flight, SS2 was released at 47,000 feet altitude. After performing some checks, the pilots triggered the ignition of the rocket motor, which propelled SS2 to 55,000 feet. As planned, the burn lasted 16 seconds and SS2 achieved Mach 1.2.

Mach 12 Virgin Galactic 1SpaceShipTwo being released from WhiteKnightTwo

For those of you who have been waiting for the Virgin Galactic to get a move with its commercial flight program, this should be promising news. Wait, there is more… Virgin Galactic has plans for its first full space flight before the end of 2013. Hopefully, if everything goes well, the first fully commercial space flight might be just round the corner – maybe by 2015?

Due to the success of the test flight, the cost of a seat to space has increased by US$50,000. It is now only US$250,000 for a whopping sub-orbital flight time of 6 minutes. Money well spent.

Mach 12 Virgin Galactic 2SpaceShipTwo in flight

Mach 12 Virgin Galactic 4SpaceShipTwo in its glide flight

Mach 12 Virgin Galactic 5Telescope image of SpaceShipTwo's first supersonic flight

Mach 12 Virgin Galactic 6Group photo of future astronauts and Sir Richard Branson outside SpaceShipTwo

Virgin Galactic

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