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Virgin Galactic

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
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 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

NBCUniversal has signed an exclusive partnership with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic to televise the space tourism company's first commercial passenger flight next August. Aboard the VSS Enterprise, will be Sir Richard, age 63, and his children, Holly, 31, and Sam, 28. The other passengers and crew have not yet been named. Read More

It's easy to naysay ambitious plans, and they don't come more ambitious than Virgin Galactic's. But astronaut Chris Hadfield has some authority on the subject. Though his views, revealed in a Guardian interview, are nuanced, they come with this sobering assessment: "Eventually they'll crash one." Read More

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
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

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

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo left terra firma for her 24th glide flight on Wednesday morning. The flight was the first in which the loading and venting of the ship's nitrous system was tested. Virgin Galactic described the flight as "another key milestone on the way to our first powered flight." Read More

After returning to the air earlier this year following a nearly nine-month long break which saw the integration of rocket motor systems, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo completed its 23rd guide flight this week. The significance of this flight is that it was the spaceplane’s first glide in powered flight configuration. Read More

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