Virgin Galactic is launching a new space age, where all are invited along for the ride. Its rocket engines will fire to propel the craft at close to 3.5 times the speed of sound in a near-vertical climb up towards the edge of space. After about a minute, the pilots shut off the engines, and Branson and his three crewmates will have a rare and incredible view of the planet beneath them.
The Future of Space Travel
Built from carbon fiber and aluminium, the huge space-plane will carry two pilots and six passengers on their cross-country trip across the clouds. The machine will carry more than six tons of fuel, and the ship is made from 80 per cent composite materials. “We have been working toward getting to space since we started Virgin Galactic, and have been very fortunate to create a spaceship that is fully capable of carrying humans to space, in theory”, said Sir Richard. To date, the plane’s four successful test flights have made history: one of them, in October 2014, managed to take it all the way to space for the first time.
The billionaire founder, Richard Branson and his Virgin Galactic corporation are dedicated to making space travel as comfortable and efficient as possible. The overall purpose of the flight is for the company to fly its customers to an altitude of 62 miles, in an attempt to win the lucrative $10 million Ansari X Prize. The prize was put up for the first company to reach space and return alive to the ground, with a spacecraft/engine combination that’s driven and controlled entirely by humans. There are still many skeptics who question if the goal is indeed feasible. The experiments that will be carried out are critical in providing more data about how a manned vehicle should function at these extreme altitudes and speeds.
What is Virgin Galactic?
From David Bowie to space travel, David Branson is always in the headlines. So, it’s no wonder that his brainchild Virgin Galactic has created a loyal following. Branson’s Virgin Group was founded in 1972, and over the years has developed into a multinational conglomerate of companies. Virgin’s Virgin Galactic, Virgin Active, and Virgin Holidays are key offerings within Virgin’s portfolio. Related: CNN Travel’s Dan Rivers Talks with Richard Branson The company’s SpaceShipTwo, The VSS Enterprise, is currently in development and will take more than 600 passengers to space from Florida’s Spaceport America. The spacecraft, similar to Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner, will be manned and feature six passenger-carrying modules.
What is the Spaceship?
It is unlike anything ever created. The spaceship is the work of Burt Rutan and Scaled Composites, who also designed SpaceShipOne for Virgin Galactic. The craft weighs more than 12 tons and is significantly longer than the Saturn V rocket used in the Apollo missions. It uses six of its own engines as it falls back from space, one for each crew member. How is SpaceShipTwo Going to Work? It is using a hybrid propulsion system and will go into rocket mode. After the engines cut out, the spaceship will deploy deploy parafoils, a kind of parachuting mechanism, to slow the craft for reentry. Then, there is a final parachute jump to slow the craft for landing.
The Journey of Space Travel
The milestone flight will push the future of space travel forward, and secure Branson’s place among the pioneers of space flight. The retired entrepreneur has been in the space business since the mid 1980s, first backing the US manned space program. The company he founded, Virgin Galactic, is one of the US pioneers in the space tourism industry. Launching for the first time, the SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity craft will fly just outside the boundary of space. Before reaching it, the craft will fly in a glide for over seven minutes, making a single powered landing. This flight will be a crucial milestone in preparing the craft for a real space flight that could send space tourists to a number of locations around the world including the edge of space, the sun, and possibly even other planets.
My Opinions About This Space Race
What if the man who owns the world’s largest private yacht (Yacht of the Year 2013), has a patent on underwater vehicle travel, as well as having been a long-time pioneer in the space industry and making some of the world’s first personal space journeys, also has a working VASIMR engine, and would love to share the technology with the rest of the world? What if the original concept of the Apple iPod was to create a perpetual motion machine, that can simultaneously recharge everything on earth and can fly without fuel for more than 200 miles? I am not saying the man who has spent $1.3 billion on space travel knows what he is talking about. But, for those who are at least willing to consider the possibility, it is worth the effort to see the other possibilities.