Virgin Galactic plans the next test flight on its SpaceShipTwo suborbital spacecraft today. The goal: reach “space” for the first time.
Departing from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California, the test flight will aim to reach an altitude of 50 miles (264,000 feet), which is the altitude used by the United States Air Force to award astronaut wings. In a statement, Virgin Galactic said:
At a basic level, this flight will aim to fly higher and faster. We plan to burn the rocket motor for longer than we ever have in flight before, but not to its full duration.
The suborbital flight will carry four NASA research payloads, which will simulate the commercial weight distribution of passengers onboard. In previous flights, SpcaceShipTwo has not climbed above 32 miles.
The great space race used to be between the United States and Soviet Union. Now, the new space race is between three entrepreneurs; Sir Richard Branson, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos with a mission to send commercial passengers into space. Branson’s Virgin Galactic, Musk’s SpaceX, and Bezos Blue Origin
You can read more about the Virgin Galactic project here.
Virgin Atlantic has promised space travel “within 18 months” or “right around the corner” for the last decade. Progress is slow and the deadly VSS Enterprise crash in 2014 highlights serious safety concerns. But I sure am hoping that today’s test is successful. One day, I look forward to traveling to space…and hopefully outer space.
image: Virgin Galatic