Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Virgin Galactic takes to higher skies

virgin-galactic.jpg
virgin-galactic-2.jpg

Commercial space travel took a giant leap toward (mega-rich) mankind on 5th September, as Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo made its second successful rocket-powered flight test.

The private spaceship flew higher and faster than ever before, reaching a maximum altitude of 65,000 feet (19,800 meters), smashing through the atmosphere at Mach 1.6 (about 761 mph at sea level). The rocket engine was engaged for a total of 20 seconds, before the SpaceShipTwo was able to successfully demonstrate its re-entry mechanism - rotating its wings and tail upward to allow for a gradual descent. If you're not a fan of turbulence (or spending several hundred thousand pounds on a single journey), this one might not be for you.

The demonstration was a cause for excitement for Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson, who plans to be a passenger in the Virgin Galactic's first commercial flight. "It was particularly thrilling to see for the first time today the whole elegant system in action during a single flight, including the remarkable feathering re-entry system," said Branson in a statement. "We are on track for a 2014 start of commercial service... I can't wait to get up there."

Once the ship gains all of its relevant safety certificates (it's a little more complicated than an MOT), Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites will begin flying the first 600 customers to have signed up to the sub-orbital flight, reported to include the likes of Angelina Jolie, Michael Schumacher and Stephen Hawking. Passengers will experience weightlessness for a number of minutes during the flight, along with probable waves of fear and sudden realisation that they might have preferred to have watched a flight video instead.

Watch the below video to see the SpaceShipTwo carried into test position by the WhiteKnightTwo, engage its rocket, before slowly drifting back down to Earth.

(Images: Rex; YouTube)

Related

HERO1.jpg

The 5 Coolest Things About Being an Astronaut

mars1.png

NASA's Mars Orbiter pictures Curiosity Rover on Mars

space.jpg

Go To Space For £1,300... If You're Dead

Comments

More

Apple has patented a new laptop chassis which is powered by your phone

Is this the future of laptops?

by Dave Fawbert
27 Mar 2017

Leaked poster appears to confirm Destiny 2 release date

And it sounds like they're doing a beta in June

by Matt Tate
23 Mar 2017

Android users can finally play Super Mario Run - and definitely should

Extended toilet breaks for everyone

by Matt Tate
23 Mar 2017

Apple have released a red iPhone and that is very important

And not just because it's red

by Gary Ogden
21 Mar 2017

Amazon's new Alexa update means it can bring you beer in two hours

"Alexa, we're going to need more booze"

by Matt Tate
21 Mar 2017

Forget traffic jams with this SUV that can drive over cars

Why has it taken so long to invent this?

by Dave Fawbert
21 Mar 2017

Zelda megafan controls his smart home with an ocarina

Pointless? Possibly. Are we envious? Definitely

by Matt Tate
20 Mar 2017

Why I pray every day for an 'SSX Tricky' remake

It's all about that Big Air Bonus

by Matt Tate
17 Mar 2017

Soon you'll be able to steal your mate's phone battery to charge your

"Oh come on, mate, I've only got 4%"

by Gary Ogden
17 Mar 2017

How to cheat your way to victory in 'Mario Kart 64'

Anyone fancy digging the old N64 out again?

by Matt Tate
17 Mar 2017