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Space Tourism

VSS Enterprise First Flight (Photo by Mark Greenberg)

Virgin Galactic continues to rack-up the milestones in its quest to get sub-orbital space tourism up and running, this time with its inaugural “captive carry” test flight. VSS Enterprise spent 2 hours 54 minutes attached to the WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft in the skies above the Mojave Air and Spaceport, California. The spaceship will be cut loose from its carrier for independent glide and then powered flight testing as the program continues through 2010 and 2011, then it's all-aboard for paying customers.  Read More

The Necker Nymph submersible

It seems that Sir Richard Branson's quest to conquer unexplored frontiers isn't limited to space tourism.The Virgin boss's latest acquisition is a DeepFlight three-person aero submarine that "flies" through the briny deep using the positive buoyancy system developed by Graham Hawkes. Christened Necker Nymph, the flying sub will find a home on Branson's 74 acre private island in the British Virgin Islands where it will launch from shore as well as operating from the luxury 105 foot catamaran Necker Belle - just add a quiet US$25,000 to the weekly hire price tag.  Read More

SS2 rolls out (Credit Jack Brockway)

We’ve seen the mothership from which the world’s first manned commercial spaceship will be air launched and we’ve even seen design images of the craft itself. Now Virgin Galactic has unveiled the actual spaceship that will take private astronauts into space - SpaceshipTwo (SS2). The unveiling at Mojave Air and Spaceport today marks the first time the craft has been revealed to the public since construction began in 2007 and brings Virgin Galactic another step closer to realizing its goal of becoming the world’s first commercial space line providing private sector access to space.  Read More

Virgin Galactic's 'mothership' VMS Eve cruises over Lake Winnebago on its first public fli...

If Richard Branson turns up somewhere, you can be fairly certain there’ll be a photo opportunity attached. But Branson’s appearance on Monday at EAA Airventure, the world’s largest private air show, was much more than a PR stunt. It also marked the first public flight of Virgin Galactic’s “Mothership” Eve, and signaled space tourism is now closer than ever.  Read More

The new space race is about to take-off

Space - it's the final frontier of human exploration, a mysterious eternity of distance, all around us and yet so tantalizingly out of reach. In its dark recesses hide the secrets of extraterrestrial life, planets yet to be explored, and it's reasonable to assume, some sort of future home for the human race once we're finished stuffing this planet up. Although mankind has been fascinated with space since we first saw the twinkling of night-time stars, it's only in the last half century that we have developed spaceships that allow us to take both ourselves and our equipment and technology outside the Earth's atmosphere. While the exhilaration of early space exploration seems to have faded in the public imagination over the past three decades, the scene is now set for a whole new space race. Loz Blain looks at where the 21st Century space Odyssey will take us and how we'll get there. Listen to the Podcast or  Read More

The engine rocket for the SpaceShipTwo is put through its paces

Commercial sub-orbital spaceflight has taken another step towards reality with Virgin Galactic announcing the completion of phase one testing on the rocket motor that will propel SpaceShipTwo into suborbital space. The Virgin Galactic project to provide sub-orbital spaceflights to the paying public will also act as a stepping stone to the company’s plans for future orbital flights and will almost certainly lead to a dramatic decrease in long haul international flight times – a couple of hours from Sydney to London anyone?  Read More

WhiteKnightTwo maiden flight
 Photo by Bill Deaver - Mojave Desert News

WhiteKnightTwo (WK2), the carrier aircraft that will become the launch platform for Virgin Galactic's sub-orbital spaceline has taken to the skies over California in its maiden test flight. Powered by four Pratt and Whitney PW308A turbofan engines, the mammoth, 140-foot wingspan carbon composite aircraft launched from the Mojave Air and Space Port on Sunday morning and completed an hour long test flight without a hitch.  Read More

Soyuz Spacecraft
 Image: NASA / Space Adventures

Millionaire video game designer Richard Garriott has made history by becoming the world’s first second-generation American astronaut to set off into outer space. Unlike his NASA astronaut father, Owen Garriott, Richard has made his journey courtesy of space tourism provider, Space Adventures.  Read More

Galactic Suite - a resort holiday in outer-space

Thirty eight travelers have made reservations to be the first guests on the Galactic Suite space hotel. The four day vacation will take passengers to a distance of 300 miles (450 kilometers) from the earth at a cost of €3 million (USD$4.46 million).  Read More

Commercial Space Flight milestone: WhiteKnightTwo

Virgin Galactic has achieved another milestone in its push to become the world’s first private commercial spaceline with the unveiling of the WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) carrier aircraft. Built at the Scaled Composites facility in Mojave, California, the twin fuselage WK2 is a formidable engineering feat. It is the world’s largest all carbon composite aircraft and the main wing, which spans 140 ft, is the longest single carbon composite aviation component ever built. Christened “EVE” in honor of Sir Richard Branson's mother, the aircraft can can fly across the US non-stop and reach altitudes of 50,000 ft - the height from which SpaceShipTwo (SS2) will be air launched.  Read More

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