Virgin Galactic takes crew of three to altitude of 55 miles
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Feb 22, 2019
Virgin Galactic's spacecraft reached an altitude of more than 55 miles (88.5 kilometers) on Friday, carrying for the first time a passenger in addition to its two pilots.
SpaceShipTwo, built by British billionaire Richard Branson to carry tourists into space, launched from California's Mojave desert and flew to an altitude of 55.87 miles (89.9 kms), the company said.
The US definition of space is anything over an altitude of 50 miles. The Virgin craft made it past that for the first time in December, reaching an altitude of 50.9 miles.
Branson announced with great fanfare at the time that it was the first time since NASA ended its space shuttle program in 2011 that an American vessel had carried humans into space.
However, the Virgin craft still has not crossed the internationally accepted boundary between Earth's outer atmosphere and space, known as the Karman Line, which is set at an altitude of 62 miles (100 kms).
"SpaceShipTwo, welcome back to space," wrote Virgin Galactic as it Tweeted updates throughout the event, without sending out any live footage.
The spacecraft travelled at a speed of Mach 3, or three times the speed of sound in its ascent, and landed without incident at the Mojave spaceport.
It is designed to carry six passengers, but test flights are years behind schedule in large part because of an accident that killed a test pilot in 2014.
Branson told AFP earlier this month that he hoped the test flights would be far enough ahead by July that he would be able to join a flight.
For the first time Friday, the flight carried a passenger, Virgin Galactic's Beth Moses, who will be in charge of training the company's future space tourists.
To take off from the ground, SpaceShipTwo is carried by another larger plane, WhiteKnightTwo, which resembles a combination of two airplanes attached by their wing tips.
When it is high enough, it releases the spaceship which then fires up its own rocket engine and ascends for roughly a minute into space.
At the apogee, its passengers float in zero-gravity for several minutes. It then descends and glides back to the landing strip.
Branson's main rival is Blue Origin, created by billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
Bezos told an audience in New York this week that his New Shepard suborbital vehicle would start flying people later this year and to a greater altitude than SpaceShipTwo.
"One of the issues that Virgin Galactic will have to address, eventually, is that they are not flying above the Karman Line, not yet," Bezos said, quoted by Space News.
New Shepard has already flown above the Karman Line, but not with people on board.
Russia sketches out "Unpiloted Tourist Space Yacht" concept that would graze space
Sochi (Sputnik) Feb 19, 2019
The development of a "space yacht" capable of taking off from ordinary airfields to deliver tourists to near-earth orbit, is conducted in Russia with the support of the National Technology Initiative's (NTI) AeroNet and SpaceNet working groups, chief designer of NPO Aviation and Space Technologies Alexander Begak told Sputnik. "We have an opportunity to land on any airfield, the device lands like an airplane... We now calculate the optimal time for space travel, a comfortable flight path, because ... read more
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.