Virgin Galactic Spaceship Makes First Powered FlightMay 1st, 2013
Virgin Galactic is one step closer to opening the doors to space tourism. Their spacecraft made its first successful powered flight on Monday. SpaceShipTwo was carried to 48,000 feet by a special twin-fuselage jet and released. The ship’s engine was then triggered and burned for 16 seconds, propelling the spaceship to an altitude of 55,000 feet and a velocity of Mach 1.2, surpassing the speed of sound. After the successful burn, SpaceShipTwo glided to a safe landing at Mojave Air and Space Port in the desert north of Los Angeles. Until Monday, SpaceShipTwo had only performed unpowered glide flights.
SpaceShipTwo is a prototype commercial version of SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 became the first privately developed manned rocket to reach space. Since the historic flight, more than 500 aspiring space tourists have paid $200,000 or plunked down deposits, patiently waiting for a chance to travel into orbit on a Virgin Galactic craft.