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Space Tourism

Aircraft

Two mile long runway opens at Spaceport America

Virgin Galactic's first generation of commercial space vehicles now have somewhere to land with the completion of the runway at Spaceport America in New Mexico. The 42-inch thick, almost two mile long "spaceway" was dedicated in a ceremony attended by New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, Buzz Aldrin, Sir Richard Branson and around 30 soon-to-be space tourists who have signed up as Virgin Galactic's first customers.Read More

Aircraft

Virgin Galactic’s VSS Enterprise achieves first free flight milestone

Last July Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo (SS2), the VSS Enterprise, made its first manned flight. For the duration of that flight, the spacecraft remained attached to its jet-powered carrier aircraft. But over the weekend VSS Enterprise left the protective grip of its mothership, VMS Eve, to successfully achieve its first manned free flight. Released from VMS Eve at an altitude of 45,000 ft (13,700 meters), VSS Enterprise glided for 11 minutes before landing at Mojave Air and Spaceport, successfully completing the two main goals of the flight.Read More

Space

Space tourism takes another leap forward with plans for commercial space station/hotel

Out of financial necessity, Russia was one of the innovators when it came to the burgeoning field of space tourism, with American businessman and former JPL scientist Dennis Tito becoming the first space tourist in mid-2001 when he spent nearly eight days in orbit on the Russian Soyuz TM-32, the International Space Station (ISS), and Soyuz TM-31. Following Russia’s halting of orbital space tourism earlier this year due to an increase in the ISS crew size, private Russian company, Orbital Technologies, has now announced plans to build, launch and operate the world’s first commercial space station (CSS). It envisions the station will be used by professional crews and corporate researchers to conduct scientific experiments, as well as private citizens looking for an out of this world holiday destination. Read More

Aircraft

Virgin Galactic’s VSS Enterprise makes first manned flight

Virgin Galactic has taken another important step to becoming the world’s first private commercial spaceline with its VSS Enterprise spacecraft flying with a crew on board for the first time. The craft formerly known as SpaceShipTwo remained attached to VMS Eve, the jet-powered carrier aircraft from which the VSS Enterprise will eventually be launched, for the duration of the flight to allow for numerous combined vehicle systems tests to be conducted.Read More

Aircraft

Virgin Galactic's VSS Enterprise achieves first captive carry flight

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

Holiday Destinations

Necker Nymph: underwater flying becomes Virgin territory

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

Space

Virgin Galactic reveals SpaceshipTwo

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

Aircraft Feature

Virgin Galactic and the start of the Commercial Space Race

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 orRead More

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