Branson's corporate space vehicle Virgin Galactic takes to skies, shows viability
British billionaire Richard Branson's commercial space venture Virgin Galactic took one step closer to carrying tourists into space with its latest supersonic test flight.
On Thursday, the company's rocket plane went Mach 1.43 in the skies above the Mojave Desert. It is the second time the aircraft, named SpaceShipTwo, has broken the sound barrier.
The test flight is a key milestone in Virgin Galactic's effort to be the world's first commercial space liner, which would make several trips a day carrying scores of paying customers into space for a brief journey.
During the test, SpaceShipTwo was taken to about 46,000 feet by a carrier aircraft, and nearly one hour into the flight, it was dropped like a bomb.
SpaceShipTwo blasted to Mach 1.43, reaching about 56,000 feet in altitude.
A second key milestone achieved during the test was that the aircraft deployed its twin tail sections to a “feathered” position, which is designed to slow the aircraft's descent and allow it to return softly to Earth.
The one-of-a-kind design is vital to reducing wear and tear on the six-person rocket ship so it can make several commercial trips each day into outer space.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments â either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.