Virgin Galactic Sorta Sets a Date for Space Flights in 2013
It’s not exactly time to bust out the celebration champagne just yet, but it sounds like Virgin Galactic is starting to make some serious progress in the commercial space race. There’s been roughly 75 test flights of WhiteKnightTwo—that’s the carrier plane—as well as several SpaceShipTwo voyages.
SpaceShipTwo will eventually do its thing as the suborbital space ship, and its been doing its best to glide back down to the ground after being dropped high in the sky from WhiteKnightTwo.
The real excitement and testing is going to come as soon as this summer, as that’s when they’ll fire up the rockets to send SpaceShipTwo a little bit higher into the sky. The goal is to eventually reach around 62 miles or so above the earth, where paying passengers can get a glimpse of the curvature of globe, the darkness of space, and experience sweet, sweet weightlessness. If all goes well it sounds like this might be possible by the end of the year, but it would only be the spaceship making the journey—no paying passengers just yet.
The FAA still has much to approve before Virgin Galactic vehicles are racing across the skies above Spaceport America in New Mexico. Nonetheless, the goal is to have the first commercial flights fired up at some point in 2013.
Virgin Galactic already has around 500 paying people ready to go, at a cost of $200,000 per seat. You know we’ll be sure to pass along the news on when the first flight is scheduled, and who'll be the lucky ducks on it.
[Photo: Jeff Foust]