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Space & Astronomy

Virgin Galactic set to resume test flights

July 11, 2016 | Comment icon 12 comments



The VSS Unity during its unveiling back in February of this year. Image Credit: YouTube / Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson's fledgling space tourism firm is about to begin test flights of its new SpaceShipTwo.
Things hadn't been looking good for the company after its previous suborbital spaceplane - the VSS Enterprise - was lost during an ill-fated test flight which resulted in the death of a pilot back in 2014.

Not willing to let this setback deter them, the team worked hard to get things back on track, an effort culminating in the reveal of VSS Unity - a new and improved version of the SpaceShipTwo design.
Now after a further five months of work, Virgin Galactic is preparing to resume test flights in the hope of eventually reaching its goal of becoming the world's first commercial space tourism company.

Unity will take to the skies next month on the back of a separate aircraft as part of a multi-stage approach to sending the vehicle to the edge of space over 100km above the Earth's surface.

When the firm does eventually open its doors however the price for a seat, which stands at $250,000, will be prohibitively expensive for all but the most wealthy of space tourists.



Source: Engadget | Comments (12)



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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #3 Posted by Clair 5 years ago
Yeah, thanks but no thanks. I'd feel safer being catapulted into space by a slingshot than I would on any of Branson's 'spaceships.'
Comment icon #4 Posted by GreenmansGod 5 years ago
They need a place to go for the return they want to get out of it.  Somebody is going to have build an orbiting hotel at some point.  
Comment icon #5 Posted by TopToffee 5 years ago
Yes,and i know just the man to build it.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 5 years ago
An orbiting hotel would be no use to Virgin Galactic and SpaceShipTwo as the vehicle is incapable of reaching orbit. Virgin Galactic did consider an orbital tourist venture as a follow on to SpaceShipTwo but decided instead that SpaceShipThree (or whatever they end up calling it... if it gets built at all) should be a point to point vehicle. It would be a sub-orbital vehicle, meaning that at maximum altitude it would be in space, but would be capable of trans-Atlantic or trans-Pacific flight. A sub-orbital vehicle with sufficient range would be capable of flying to any point on Earth in under ... [More]
Comment icon #7 Posted by GreenmansGod 5 years ago
 It is a big roller coaster ride to nowhere as it stands right now, I understand that.  They do need destination of some sort or people are going to get bored with it, before they recoup their investment.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 5 years ago
Both Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin firmly disagree with you. The current state of the technology firmly disagrees with you. The fact remains that although the price of a ticket on Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo or Blue Origin,s New Sheperd is out of the reach of most people it is within reach of the reasonably wealthy. Even with the reduction in launch costs that SpaceX is promising a flight to an orbital hotel would still cost tens of millions of dollars. Only the super-rich could afford it,
Comment icon #9 Posted by Gecks 5 years ago
Richard Branson is a very clever man and a great businessman. Im pretty sure he didnt take on this entrepreneurial endeavor if he felt it wouldnt pay off. Virgin itself its a great company, well managed and put together. $250,000 is far out of my price range but plenty of people can still afford it. We painted a toddlers ride on lamborgini this week. $3000 for the base car plus had a body kit and wheels added so it looked like his dads real one he just bought to add to his multiple car collection. Yup, plenty of wealthy people out there that this will be affordable for them. All it needs is th... [More]
Comment icon #10 Posted by Talion78 5 years ago
It's helping shape future flights to the edge and to space, so even if it prices out us mere mortals now....it's paving the way for future programs.
Comment icon #11 Posted by paperdyer 5 years ago
So basically we have an expensive amusement ride.  Even if I could afford it, I'm sure there'd be some tyoe of physical examine I'd fail.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 5 years ago
Amusement ride makes it sound like a giant roller-coaster. I think a better, more accurate way to think of it is to think back to the early days of US aviation, when people would pay simply for a few minutes in one of those newfangled aeroplanes. They had no destination but would pay simply for the experience of having flown. What Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and XCOR Aerospace (with their Lynx spaceplane) are offering is that experience for the 21st century, but instead of flight you get to experience space and weightlessness,


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