Wednesday, 26 June, 2019

Virgin Galactic successfully launches tourism rocket ship into space for first time

WATCH: Virgin Galactic tourism rocket reaches space Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Reaches Space for the First Time
Sandra Phillips | 17 December, 2018, 17:07

Dramatic in-flight video from Virgin Galactic shows the dazzling view Earth from above from the private spaceflight company's SpaceShipTwo vehicle, the VSS Unity, during its historic first flight to space Thursday (Dec. 13) over California's Mojave Desert.

Manned space travel is usually associated with NASA or other government-funded agencies but that may not be the case for much longer thanks to Virgin Galactic.

British business magnate and founder of Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson, has said that a hard Brexit would be disastrous for the United Kingdom and would force many british business to close, leaving the country "near bankrupt".

Virgin Galactic has taken another big step towards putting tourists in space.

The two pilots are Mark "Forger" Stucky and former NASA astronaut Rick "CJ" Sturckow.

The successful launch comes after the original SpaceShip Two crashed during a test flight in 2014, killing the co-pilot and gravely injuring the pilot.

In a video released, Virgin Galactic has successfully conducted a test flight reaching the atmospheric limit of "space". The flight did not, however, breach the 100km Karman Line, a perimeter that many organisations use to resolve debates about where exactly space begins and ends.

He called yesterday "a momentous day and I could not be more proud of our teams who together have opened a new chapter of space exploration". For the past few hours, Virgin Galactic has posted numerous photos from today's landmark mission on various social media platforms, including a photo of Mark Stucky and CJ Sturckow, the two crew members who piloted the mission.

One of the many posts on Twitter by Virgin Galactic showcasing the success and significance of the launch
One of the many posts on Twitter by Virgin Galactic showcasing the success and significance of the launch

Both Parrish and McGowan work for The Spaceship Company, the Virgin Galactic sister company that manufactured SpaceShipTwo. Branson plans to be the first passenger aboard VSS Unity. VSS Unity then used a planned 60-second rocket motor burn to reach a top speed of Mach 2.9 during the flight.

Once the test program is finished next year, he said, the operation will move to Spaceport America, the futuristic facility in New Mexico where it intends to fly its tourist flights.

Space tourism could become in a reality as early as 2020.

If one accepts that VSS Unity reached space today, it is the first time an American-built spaceship was launched from American soil since the final space shuttle flight, STS-135, in July 2011.

Virgin Galactic has been hungry for cash since Richard Branson announced he would no longer accept a $1 billion investment from Saudi Arabia.

Today's launch of SpaceShipTwo was an huge breakthrough in the push for privatized space travel, as well as for Virgin Group.

SpaceX and Northrop Grumman operate cargo ships that launch from the USA, toting supplies and food to the space station, but not people. The company already has more than 600 would-be astronauts signed on to launch, all of them purchasing tickets priced between $200,000 and $250,000 per flight.

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