Highlights from Interbike 2014

Virgin Galactic

VSS Enterprise flies over the runway dedication ceremony at Spaceport America, New Mexico ...

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

VSS Enterprise on its milestone first free flight (Image: Mark Greenberg)

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

VSS Enterprise on its first manned flight attached to VMS Eve

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

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

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

Gizmag Podcast #6: Virgin Galactic and the start of the Commercial Space Race

In this week's podcast, Loz Blain takes a look at commercial space travel with Virgin Galactic and the start of a new space race for the 21st century. Noel McKeegan talks to us about quantum computing and a new unmanned Nano Air Vehicle that weighs just ten grams and flies by flapping its tiny wings like a hummingbird. And Geoffrey Baird gives us a roundup of four environmentally friendly gadgets for around the home. Plus, we're finally on iTunes! To subscribe, jump into the iTunes store and search for "Gizmag."  Read More

Terminal Hanger Concept, Spaceport America

Virgin Galactic may be spending over USD$300 million on a commercial space vehicle, but only now has it actually got a place to land. Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport, broke ground in New Mexico on June 19th. The 110,000 square foot facility, designed by Foster and Partners, will cost around $200m and is expected to host the first commercial space flight by 2011.  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

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