Photokina 2014 highlights

SpaceShipTwo

SpaceShipTwo will carry 12 NASA experiments (Image: Mars Scientific/Clay Center Observator...

Science and space tourism shook hands this week with NASA announcing 12 technology experiments that will fly on the SpaceShipTwo spaceplane under a charter agreement with Virgin Galactic. The payload is a mixture of government, academic, and private microgravity experiments that will form the first commercial research flight for the spacecraft.  Read More

Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America have signed a joint agreement with for airspace use ...

Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America have signed a joint agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for access to airspace for spaceflights from New Mexico. The agreement helps to pave the way for commercial flights of Virgin's SpaceShipTwo, and is the first agreement of its type for a commercial spaceline.  Read More

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, shown here on a test flight, will be fueled by a thermoset...

As the still-to-be-announced date of the first commercial flight of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo approaches, more and more of the technology involved is getting nailed down. A case in point is the company's announcement that it has decided which fuel will be used in the first passenger-carrying flights of the suborbital spacecraft. The solid fuel grains that will fuel the world’s largest operational hybrid rocket will be a thermoset plastic similar to nylon.  Read More

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo on its way to a record 71,000 ft altitude and Mach 1.4 (Pho...

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo (SS2) continues to inch toward a full suborbital test flight with its third supersonic test carried out Friday morning. The SS2 rocket engine fired for 20 seconds, pushing the suborbital spacecraft to an altitude of 71,000 ft (18 km) and a top speed over Mach 1.4, both of which were new records for SS2. The Reaction Control System, feather re-entry system, and a thermal protection coating were successfully tested during the flight.  Read More

SpaceShipTwo broke the altitude and speed record that it set in April

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo (SS2) broke its own speed and altitude records on Thursday as it successfully completed its second rocket-powered, supersonic flight. At 8:00 AM PDT, SS2 took off slung beneath the WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) carrier aircraft from Virgin Galactic’s Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California. According to the company, the tourism spacecraft went through its full technical mission profile in a single flight for the first time, including the deployment of its “feathering” re-entry mechanism at high altitude.  Read More

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo climbing into the stratosphere on thirty tons of thrust (Phot...

At 7:55 AM PDT this Monday, the Scaled Composites SpaceShipTwo (SST) attained a peak velocity of Mach 1.2 at an altitude of 55,000 feet (nearly 17 km) above the Mohave Desert with a 16-second burn of its 30-ton thrust rocket engine. Piloted by Mark Stucky and Mike Alsbury with an assist from Dave Mackay in the mother bird White Knight Two, this flight marks a stepping-off point for commercial manned spaceflight.  Read More

SpaceShipTwo producing an oxidizer contrail in a 'Cold Flow' test flight (Photo: MarsScien...

Just a week after the first in-flight venting of its nitrous system, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo has made an even more spectacular step on the way to its first powered flight. The craft's 25th glide flight on April 12 saw oxidizer flow through the craft’s propulsion system and expelled through the nozzle at its rear in what is known as a “Cold Flow” procedure.  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

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