Virgin Galactic passenger spacecraft
completes first rocket-powered flight

| 3 comments

Virgin Galactic test flight

News: Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic passenger spacecraft broke the sound barrier during its first rocket-powered flight in California yesterday.

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo was brought to an altitude of 14,000 metres before being released by its carrier craft over the Mojave Desert.

The pilots then rotated the spacecraft to a vertical position and ignited its rocket, which propelled it beyond the speed of sound and took it to almost 17,000 metres above ground.

Virgin Galactic test flight
Image by VirginGalactic.com

"The first powered flight of Virgin Spaceship Enterprise was without any doubt our single most important flight test to date," said Branson, the British entrepreneur who founded Virgin Galactic to be the world's first commercial space travel company.

"Today’s supersonic success opens the way for a rapid expansion of the spaceship's powered flight envelope, with a very realistic goal of full space flight by the year’s end," he added.

SpaceShipTwo is designed to carry two pilots and six passengers on two-and-a-half-hour sub-orbital flights and was unveiled in 2009, a year after its carrier craft WhiteKnightTwo was unveiled – see all news about Virgin Galactic.

Photo by Mark Greenberg

The Virgin Galactic terminal in New Mexico was designed by Foster + Partners, the British firm that recently announced proposals to 3D-printing buildings on the moon - see all news and stories about space.

Top image is by Marscientific.com and Clay Center Observatory.

  • http://www.zazous.co.uk Kate Austin

    I love the photo. Is it real? I want that on my wall!

  • DWmFrancis

    Lets not forget the others who paved the way to this success. Funding from Paul Allen and engineering by Burt Rutan and the Scaled Composites team deserve recognition for their work as well.

  • farnaz

    I love space and I’m only 13. I’ve loved it since I was 3.