Tuesday, 22 January, 2019

Virgin Galactic's test flight looks dang impressive in new video

Virgin Galactic advances space tourism with successful test Virgin Galactic could soon reach space for the first time
Sandra Phillips | 18 December, 2018, 19:55

Rather than aiming for space using a NASA-esque vertically launched rocket, Virgin Galactic uses a rocket-powered space plane dubbed VSS Unity, a craft more comparable to the supersonic X planes developed by the United States military.

"Today we get to enjoy the fact that we have put people into space before anybody else", Branson said.

At the start of the test flight, a special jet carrying the Virgin Space Ship Unity (VSS Unity) flew to an altitude near 13,100 metres before releasing the craft.

Branson, wearing a leather bomber jacket with a fur collar, attended the take-off along with hundreds of spectators on a crisp morning in the California desert.

He continued: "We will now push on with the remaining portion of our flight test programme which will see the rocket motor burn for longer, and VSS Unity fly still faster and higher towards giving thousands of private astronauts an experience which provides a new planetary perspective to our relationship with the Earth and with the comsos".

The engine burned for 60 seconds, accelerating Unity to a maximum velocity of Mach 2.9, or 2.9 times the speed of sound, Virgin Galactic representatives said.

Virgin Galactic considers 80 kilometres the boundary of space because that is the distance used by the US Air Force and other US agencies.

Virgin Galactic says its spacecraft created to launch tourists into space completed an important test flight on Thursday.

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But in October, Branson told CNBC that he could be in space "in months and not years". "We've had tears, real tears, and we've had moments of joy". So far, more than 600 people have ponied up some $250,000 for a 90-minute flight on one of Virgin's suborbital missions, including Justin Bieber and Citibike enthusiast Leonardo DiCaprio.

The parent company of Virgin Galactic (Virgin) has another space-based venture in its wings: Virgin Orbit.

Ultimately, the company aims to carry paying passengers on its spaceship, which is created to carry six people in addition to two pilots. The company wants to send tourists into space by 2019 and is charging £190,000 for a single seat on its commercial space flights.

Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson and a star-studded list of supporters were on the ground cheering on the mission throughout the daring flight.

Bezos' New Shepard has already flown to that altitude - an internationally recognized boundary between Earth's atmosphere and outer space known as the Karman line - though the Blue Origin trip did not carry humans.

The commonly accepted worldwide definition of space is 62 miles high (100 km), but the US Air Force considers the space boundary to be a bit lower, at 50 miles.

The 68-year-old had been emotional throughout the flight, shedding many tears and hugging his son Sam as it eventually made its way to space altitudes.

"One thing leads onto another". "I'm itching to go", he said.

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