VSS Enterprise Completes First Manned Glide Flight

I signed up quite a while ago for news updates from Virgin Galactic, which have been interesting but infrequent. Two I received while in Crete I really should have mentioned here, but a lot of other stuff was going on and I didn’t get round to it. Now I will.

VIRGIN GALACTIC’S SPACESHIPTWO ACHIEVES MAJOR MILESTONE IN ITS PROGRAM TO BECOME WORLD’S FIRST MANNED COMMERCIAL SPACE VEHICLE.

 While most of the media of the world concerns itself with a sick economy, various apparently pointless wars, and a mid-term president who seems to be losing his grip, it’s heartening to know that this project is on course and doing well.

VSS Enterprise achieves manned free flight from over 45,000 ft (13,700 metres) and successfully glides to land at Mojave Air and Spaceport.10th October 2010, Mojave, CA. Virgin Galactic, the US company developing the world’s first commercial manned space flight system and tourism business, is delighted to announce the successful completion today of the first piloted free flight of SpaceShipTwo, named the VSS Enterprise. The spaceship was released from its mothership at an altitude of 45,000 ft (13,700 metres).

Reading that last bit I can’t help but wonder about reality catching up with fiction, and the way that science fiction can be swiftly put out of date. Isn’t there a scene in one of the Star Trek Films where one of the Enterprise captains (Picard?) shows off a display case full of models of ships called Enterprise? It strikes me that now that display is short one model.

During its first flight the spaceship was piloted by Pete Siebold, assisted by Mike Alsbury as co-pilot. The two main goals of the flight were to carry out a clean release of the spaceship from its mothership and for the pilots to free fly and glide back and land at Mojave Air and Space Port in California.
Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, who was present during the first successful flight, added “This was one of the most exciting days in the whole history of Virgin. For the first time since we seriously began the project in 2004, I watched the world’s first manned commercial spaceship landing on the runway at Mojave Air and Space Port and it was a great moment. Now, the sky is no longer the limit and we will begin the process of pushing beyond to the final frontier of space itself over the next year.”

Good on you Mr Branson, it’s excellent to know that someone with money and power shares the dream. However, bringing things thumping back down to Earth, much as I admire what you’re doing, I’m still comparing that BT broadband offer against what I pay for my Virgin account…

Go check out the Virgin Galactic site.

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