March 23, 2010
VSS Enterprise Completes Maiden Voyage
The VSS Enterprise, an experimental craft designed by Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic in order to offer space flights to paying customers, has successfully completed its inaugural flight, company officials announced on Monday.
On its official website, the company announced that the aircraft, also known as SpaceshipTwo (SS2), completed a 'captive carry' test flight, launching from Mojave Air and Spaceport in California at 7:05am Pacific Time. The VSS Enterprise has been jointly developed by Branson's organization and Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites aerospace company.
In Monday's press statement, Rutan, the man who created the first plane to circumnavigate the globe without refueling, called it "a momentous day for the Scaled and Virgin Teams."
"The captive carry flight signifies the start of what we believe will be extremely exciting and successful spaceship flight test program," he added.
"Seeing the finished spaceship in December was a major day for us but watching VSS Enterprise fly for the first time really brings home what beautiful, ground-breaking vehicles Burt and his team have developed for us," said Branson. "It comes as no surprise that the flight went so well; the Scaled team is uniquely qualified to bring this important and incredible dream to reality. Today was another major step along that road and a testament to US engineering and innovation."
The VSS Enterprise was designed to carry six passengers and two pilots into sub-orbital space. Using a single hybrid rocket motor, it will reportedly be able to reach speeds in excess of 2,500 miles per hour. Customers who purchase a seat on the craft will be awarded their wings following the flight, and will be able to purchase video of their flight for posterity sake.
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