Virgin Galactic has reached suborbital space for the first time

by Fredrick Graves December 18, 2018, 1:00
Virgin Galactic has reached suborbital space for the first time

"Today we have shown Virgin Galactic can open space to the world", Sir Richard said.

Rather than following the NASA strategy of a vertically launched rocket, Virgin Galactic uses a rocket-powered space plane.

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. It has also earned the plane's pilots, Mark "Forger" Stucky and Frederick "CJ" Sturckow, commercial astronaut wings from the Federal Aviation Administration.

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.

Rocket man and Virgin billionaire Richard Branson's commercial space programme successfully reached the edge of the world's atmosphere for the first time in its fourth test flight across the U.S. today. 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.

A successful flight will be significant progress toward the start of commercial flights that Virgin Galactic promised more than a decade ago. It has since regularly made similar promises to have space flights airborne in the near future.

That prize was collected in October 2004 by the group behind SpaceShipOne, whose design Virgin Galactic adapted for VSS Unity and its other piloted, six-passenger spaceliners (which are collectively termed SpaceShipTwo vehicles). Tickets will be offered ahead of the first commercial launch, and test flights with Blue Origin employees are expected to begin in 2019. A 90-minute flight costs $250,000.

The VSS Unity took off the Mojave Desert early on Thursday
Image The VSS Unity took off the Mojave Desert early on Thursday

Branson has said he wants to be one of the first on board.

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.

During a meeting with reporters here Wednesday afternoon, George Whitesides, Virgin Galactic's chief executive, said everything was looking good for the launch and that the team was ready for "all the novelty, excitement and risk that comes with a real test flight".

A replacement craft, the VSS Unity, made its maiden flight earlier this year. Bezos's venture will use a more traditional, reusable ground-based rocket, the New Shepard, that lands after returning from sub-orbit similar to SpaceX's Falcon 9 first stages.

More than 600 people have committed up to $250,000 USA for rides in the six-passenger rocket, which is about the size of an executive jet.

Virgin Galactic has continued its incremental test programme and a third flight in July cracked Mach 2 as pilots kept the rocket burning for 42 seconds, powering through the stratosphere to an apogee of 170,800 feet.

Liverpool vs Bayern Munich, Manchester United vs PSG
Bayern Munich will have a break during the winter period, which has sparked fears among Liverpool fans that they will be fresher. Hubbleshubbles opined: "Unless Liverpool pull a Liverpool , I literally don't see us standing any kind of chance.

Recommended News


TOP News

Susan Collins says Texas ruling on Obamacare will be overturned
O'Connor said the tax bill passed by Congress last December effectively rendered the entire health law unconstitutional. Many Republican attorneys general filed a lawsuit alleging that the policy is unconstitutional.

MUELLER RESPONDS: The Special Counsel Reacts to Flynn Memo Deadline
When the agents arrived, Flynn appeared "relaxed and jocular", offering to give them a tour of the White House, his lawyers wrote. Under advisory sentencing guidelines, Flynn is facing between zero and six months in prison.

Nicki Minaj Threatens To Sue Jesse Palmer Host Of Daily Mail TV
Minaj eventually disabled comments on the post after Petty's criminal background was picked up by several outlets. Fans of the music star have commented about the fact that her new boyfriend is a registered sex offender in NY .

Burnham's MP to support Theresa May in tonight's no confidence vote
May has not said what she will do if, as many expect, there is an early election triggered by Britain's Brexit crisis. This evening, May told Tory MPs she will not be leading the party into the next general election, Amber Rudd said.

Trump signals healthcare reform to overtake 'unconstitutional' Obamacare
A federal judge in Texas has struck down the whole of the Affordable Care Act , also known as "Obamacare", as unconstitutional . Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano on a federal judge in Texas ruling ObamaCare is unconstitutional.

Huawei exec Meng faces United States fraud charges linked to Iran
Her appearance at the British Columbia Supreme Court in Vancouver is a prelude to an extradition process that could take months. After almost six hours of arguments and counter-arguments, no decision was reached and the hearing was adjourned until Monday.

Jurgen Klopp Answers Jose Mourinho's Jibe About Winning Trophies
I don't know if it was better or not better; I know the other team was European champion and that this team won nothing. Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp insists winning trophies shouldn't mean everything in football.

SpaceX botched booster landing, but Christmas dinner made it to ISS
To the worldwide space station kicked off the sixteenth mission of the cargo ship Dragon under the NASA contract with SpaceX.

1st-year starting QB will win Heisman
He is a finalist for the award with Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins and Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The past four Maxwell winners and past five Walter Camp winners have all gone on to win the Heisman.

Bellerin calf injury adds to Arsenal fitness woes ahead of Christmas fixtures
In goal Arsenal have Bernd Leno, while in defence Emery trusts in Laurent Koscielny and Stephan Lichtsteiner as the central pair. "We need to carry on in our way but it is not going to be easy to get into the top four".