(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.
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
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).
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.
Google co-founder Sergey Brin has forked out a US$5 million deposit to reserve a seat on future orbital spaceflights and join the select group of private space tourists
. Space Adventures, the company that helped Dennis Tito
become the world’s first private astronaut in 2001, has also announced an agreement with the Federal Space Agency of the Russian Federation (FSA) to launch a dedicated mission to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2011.
March 28, 2008 Back in 2001 Californian millionaire Denis Tito made headlines as the worlds' first space tourist
- shelling out around US$20 million for the privilege. Seven years on, the competition to offer such an out-of-this-world experience to a broader range of paying customers (and capitalize on what is expected to become a market worth hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade) is heating up. Earlier this year fledgling spaceline Virgin Galactic revealed designs for what will become its flagship -SpaceShipTwo
, now Californian based XCOR Aerospace has unveiled a two-seater suborbital spaceship the size of a small private plane that the company expects to have airborne in 2010.
February 4, 2008 The era of private space travel
is another step closer to reality with Virgin Galactic revealing designs for the craft set to become the flagship of the world's first spaceline. Based on SpaceShipOne
, which claimed the $10 million Ansari X Prize in October 2004 by successfully becoming the first private manned spacecraft to exceed an altitude of 328,000 feet twice within the span of a 14 day period, SpaceShipTwo and its carrier aircraft WhiteKnightTwo are now approaching completion at Scaled Composites in Mojave, California. Flight testing set to get underway towards the middle of this year for what will be the world’s largest all carbon composite aircraft, capable of carrying eight astronauts or other payloads into sub-orbital space.
August 30, 2007 Imagine long-distance air-travel that could get you to the other side of the globe in less than a quarter of the time it presently takes? Researchers from Reaction Engines, a company created for design and development of advanced space transport and propulsion systems, are investigating the possibility of hypersonic civil transport in a three year study to examine the feasibility of reducing long-distance flights (e.g. from Brussels to Sydney) to less than 4 hours.
August 5, 2007 Almost 40 years after it ended, the Spaceward Foundation
is reigniting the space race with the third annual Elevator: 2010
competition. Part of the “Spaceward Games” taking place on October 19-21 near Salt Lake City, the competition is open to any family, school or adult and this year allows participants to compete in more events including the first inaugural Light Racer challenge. The tournament aims to bring attention to the viability of far-reaching space exploration concepts and requires competitors to build beam powered lunar buggies and beam powered cable “climbers”. But the machines aren’t the only thing ascending rapidly in the name of scientific advancement; the total prize money this year has skyrocketed to US$1 million.
April 16, 2007 Billionaire Charles Simonyi
, the 5th civilian space traveller ever, has now completed more than a week of his 13-day space journey. He's currently enjoying zero gravity on board the International Space Station (ISS)
with its current long-term crew Michael Lopez-Alegria and Sunita Williams. Private space tourism is taking off as an industry - even with trips like this costing around US$20 million, tour organiser Space Adventures
is almost fully booked until 2009.