When I looked at this photo of Virgin Galactic's ship, I thought it was some part of a science fiction movie. But, it isn't. It is actually a photo of reality invented out of sci-fi. Space came just a little bit closer for the everyman this week, as Virgin Galactic's ship made one 1,470kph-leap towards space in its first successful flying rocket test.
Things in the space tourism industry just got interesting. In its first proper rocket-powered test flight, Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo (but its actually their first spaceship launch) underwent a 16-second burn propelling it to an altitude of 16.7km at some 1,470kph, just bre'aking the sound barrier, before making a smooth and controlled landing. According to Virgin's Richard Branson, the successful test clears the way for the very real goal of suborbital, edge-of-space tourist trips before the year is out.
SpaceShipTwo will eventually burn for 70 seconds propelling six passengers and two pilots up to an altitude of 100km, or the edge of space, giving passengers 5 minutes of weightlessness for a mere $200,000 a flight. May be its time for me to pack up my space suit!!