Virgin Galactic First Powered Flight VNR
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The rocket-powered supersonic flight of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo on Monday marked a big milestone for the company, and for the private spaceflight industry as a whole.
The history-making SpaceShipTwo test flight on Monday (April 29) marked Virgin Galactic’s entrance into the final phase of vehicle evaluation prior to commercial suborbital service from Spaceport America in New Mexico, officials said.
“It is really a stupendous day,” said Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson, who witnessed the flight from California’s Mojave Air and Space Port. “So, big grins all over our faces after many years of hard work,” he told SPACE.com in an exclusive interview.
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The commercial spaceflight company Virgin Galactic flew its SpaceShipTwo space plane on the craft’s first rocket-powered test flight Monday (April 29) from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. But that’s just the start of a campaign to launch paying passengers into space.
SpaceShipTwo is designed to carry space tourists on trips to the edge of space and back for $200,000 a ticket. While the price may be steep for some, more than 500 people have already put down deposits to ride. The first official passengers will be Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson and his family. SPACE.com spoke to the British billionaire just hours after the successful test flight Monday. Here’s Branson’s view of the landmark SpaceShipTwo flight:
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‘Face it: We will all die. You could suffer years of pain and decline, expiring as a shrunken skeleton under a hospital bedsheet with tubes going out of your arm. Or, you could go out in a blaze of glory at Mach 15 in the upper atmosphere of MOTHERF*CKING MARS. I know which of those two I’d prefer, and “hating life” doesn’t come into it.’
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Although Virgin Galactic has promised to eventually lower prices on its suborbital space tourism flights aboard SpaceShipTwo, it looks like prices are actually going up 25 percent in the near term.
In an interview broadcast Monday night on KABC-TV 7 News Los Angeles, Branson said a seat on the suborbital space plane would now cost $250,000 — an increase of $50,000 from the price the company has been advertising for eight years.
Now, does that seem a bit counter-intuitive, wouldn’t it? Absolutely. But, this is actually a clever marketing move. How so? Now, you really didn’t think I’d tell you before the break, did you?
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Sparks, NV – April 29, 2013 – Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Space Systems is proud to announce that its Hybrid Rocket Motor propelled Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo (SS2) sub-orbital vehicle on its first ever powered flight. SNC’s hybrid propulsion system is the largest hybrid ever used for space vehicle propulsion.
“The rocket motor ignition went as planned, with the expected burn duration, good engine performance and solid vehicle handling qualities throughout,” said Virgin Galactic president and CEO George Whitesides. “The successful outcome of this test marks a pivotal point for our program. We will now embark on a handful of similar powered flight tests, and then make our first test flight to space.”
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Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo (SS2) finally conducted its debut powered flight on Monday, paving the way towards its space tourism aspirations. The historic milestone was conducted high over the Mojave desert, as the RocketMotorTwo engine roared into life, propelling the spacecraft to supersonic speeds.
See on www.nasaspaceflight.com