Sci-tech

Virgin Space Ship Successfully Reaches ‘Space’

Virgin Space Ship Successfully Reaches ‘Space’

Virgin Galactic's passenger spaceship has made history with her maiden spaceflight as it successfully reached the edge of space yesterday to return without a hitch back in the Mojave Desert in California. And it effectively opens a new era in human spaceflight, one where companies are working to end governments' long held monopoly on space, aiming to push farther faster.

Thursday's test flight "saw a 60 second planned rocket motor burn which propelled VSS Unity to nearly three times the speed of sound and to an apogee of 51.4 miles", the company explained in its news release.

"We made it to space", Enrico Palermo, president of The Spaceship Company, Virgin Galactic's manufacturing partner, told a crowd of cheering spectators gathered at the Mojave Air & Space Port in Mojave, California. It cost a very similar price to what we're spending today to put people into space. It was an indescribable feeling: "joy, relief, exhilaration and anticipation for what is yet to come". Elon Musk's SpaceX, in partnership with NASA, is planning crewed missions for early next year, and Jeff Bezos announced that Blue Origin plans to send its first crew to space in 2019.

The success brought the company, founded by British billionaire Richard Branson, one step closer to realize its dreams of space tourism and research flights.

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Virgin Galactic first promised sub-orbital spaceflight trips for tourists back in 2008, claiming that the first trips would be happening "within 18 months".

VSS Unity took off attached to its mothership, WhiteKnightTwo.

At the start of the test flight, a special jet carrying the Virgin Space Ship Unity flew to an altitude near 43,000 feet (13,100 metres) before releasing the craft. After a few seconds of coasting, VSS Unity's rocket engine fired on.

"Today, for the very first time ever sold, a crewed spaceship, created to carry private passengers, reached space".

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"What we witnessed today is more compelling evidence that commercial space is set to become one of the twenty-first century's defining industries". It's high enough to reach the United States government's recognized definition of space, but not the 62-mile "Karman line" that is internationally recognized as the boundary.

"Many of you will know how important the dream of space travel is to me personally", said Branson after the successful space flight. The Federal Aviation Administration said both pilots will receive their commercial astronaut wings at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. early next year.

Whitesides said a review of the flight's data will last into the new year, and there will be more test flights, some with company employees as passengers.

In a double-whammy, Unity also carried four NASA-funded payloads on the mission, Virgin Galactic's fourth test flight. This procedure, which is a first of its kind, ultimately saves fuel and money, according to Virgin Galactic launch officials.

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