Virgin Galactic's first commercial spaceship to test-fly this year
London, Feb 28 (ANI): Virgin Galactic, an offshoot of Richard Branson's Virgin Group, is planning to test-fly its first spaceship beyond the Earth's atmosphere this year, with commercial suborbital passenger service to follow in 2013 or 2014, company officials have announced.
Nearly 500 customers have signed up for rides on SpaceShipTwo, a six-passenger, two-pilot spaceship being built and tested by Scaled Composites, an aerospace company founded by aircraft designer Burt Rutan and now owned by Northrop Grumman.
The suborbital flights, which cost 200,000 dollars per person, are designed to reach an altitude of about 68 miles, giving fliers a few minutes to experience zero gravity and glimpse Earth set against the blackness of space.
"In the suborbital area, there are a lot of things to be done. This is an area that has been essentially absent for about four decades," the Telegraph quoted Neil Armstrong, who was a test pilot for the 1960s-era X-15 research plane before becoming a U.S. astronaut and commander of the first mission to land on the moon, as saying.
"There's a lot of opportunities," Armstrong told about 400 people attending the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference in Palo Alto, California.
"I certainly hope that some of the new approaches will prove to be profitable and useful," he said.
Virgin Galactic is the most visible of a handful of companies developing spaceships for tourism, research, educational and business purposes.
SpaceShipTwo, the first of Virgin's planned five-ship fleet, has completed 31 atmospheric test flights - 15 attached to its carrier aircraft WhiteKnightTwo, and 16 glide tests, William Pomerantz, Virgin Galactic's vice president of special projects, said in a speech to the conference.
Preparations for the ship's first rocket-powered flights are under way at Scaled Composites' Mojave, Calif., plant and expected to take place this year.
"We hope to have the rocket motor in the spaceship later this year and start powered flight testing," Virgin Galactic chief test pilot David Mackay told the conference.
"We would like to be the first to do this, but we're not in a race with anyone. This is not a Cold War-era space race," he added.
Pomerantz told reporters later "We flow pretty quickly from first powered flight to first flight to space and then it's not terribly long from there until we have our first commercial flight to space."
He said passenger service could begin in 2013 or 2014, depending on the results of the test flights and other factors, such as pilot training. (ANI)
Read More: N.i.area | Ind.area Sarojininagar Po | Khalilabad I.area | Srp Group Area Tso Nadiad | Srp Group I | Alto Betim So | Alto-porvorim | Kannad | Bramhani | Chapaner | Chikhalthan | Banshendra | Basadi | Indl.area Nagpur So | Telegraph Work Shop | A.c.company | Fort William | P.g.reach | Neil Island | Hajipur Ind.area
While the dead are buried, a war of words erupts over Ukraine
January 27, 2015 at 2:10 AM
Manuel Neuer meets his waxen image in Berlin
January 27, 2015 at 2:10 AM
Thailand beach road becomes bed race track
January 27, 2015 at 1:45 AM
Rynshu - Menswear Show Autumn/Winter 2015/16 in Paris with interview
January 27, 2015 at 1:14 AM
Angelina Jolie uses her starpower for good
January 27, 2015 at 1:05 AM
Schiaparelli - Haute Couture Fashion Show Spring/Summer 2015 in Paris with interviews
January 27, 2015 at 1:04 AM