Virgin Galactic, the space tourism branch of Richard Branson’s Virgin conglomerate, took us one step closer to getting regular people into space yesterday with the maiden flight of it’s sub-orbital spaceship, SpaceShipTwo.
The craft, which is carried by it’s mother ship, the WhiteKnightTwo flew above the Mojave Desert for it’s first flight of approximately three hours. With early test flights to space planned for late 2010, customers could be booking flights into orbit by the end of 2011.
The SpaceShipTwo and the WhiteKnightTwo were built by Scaled Composites who were responsible for the SpaceShipOne that won the $10 million Ansari X prize in 2004 for creating a reusable manned space vehicle.
Richard Branson credited Burt Rutan, founder of Scaled Composites and his team.
“Seeing the finished spaceship in December was a major day for us but watching VSS Enterprise fly for the first time really brings home what beautiful, ground-breaking vehicles Burt and his team have developed for us”
While progress appears to be moving swiftly, travellers should start saving now – ticket prices are rumoured to be set at around $200,000.