Virgin officially enters space, and no I don’t mean Joe Loftus. I’m talking about Sir Richard Branson’s Galactic spaceship!
The company’s SpaceShipTwo Unity Plane flew higher than ever before in a move that is likely to revolutionise casual space travel (if you can afford it).
‘It’s a day that we’ve been waiting for for a long time,” Virgin Galactic chief executive George Whitesides said ahead of the launch.
‘Risk is a valuable part of forward progress and intrinsic in risk is sometimes you have good days and sometimes you have bad days.
‘I think we can authentically say that we’re obviously hoping for a good day tomorrow but the risk of a not good day is still possible.’
The flight launched from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California at 3:15pm GMT and ended up reaching an altitude of 50 miles above the Earth’s surface attached to a carrier plane called WhiteKnightTwo, Metro reports.
It officially separated from its mothership 45 minutes after takeoff, engaging its rocket thrusters, reaching a speed of Mach 2.9, whatever that means.
The Virgin Galactic’s rocket motor burnt for 60 seconds before shutting off. It was the first time the company had reached the edge of space as stipulated by the US Air Force
It officially landed at 4:15pm, an hour after launch. That’s some round trip!
Speaking about his own plans for space travel, Branson said:
Roughly then we’ll be ready to move the whole operation to New Mexico where we’ve got a beautiful spaceport. I will then go up. In the not too distant future we’ll have three spaceships operating from New Mexico taking people up.
We’ll have to keep an eye on him, though. It’s all nice and well saying you’re gonna do something. Every year I tell myself I’m gonna do Dry January and yet there I am, spraying hairspray into my mouth come the 3rd of the month ’cause there’s nothing leftover from Christmas.
Alongside Virgin Galactic, is Blue Origin who are all in some Gen-Y space race with SpaceX, run by eccentric big-spender and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
SpaceX hopes to become the first private space firm to send a human into space, but unlike Virgin, has no interest in sending us commoners into the realms of the unknown.
They mostly launch payloads to the International Space Station, but earlier this year announced it would fly Japanese billionaire and online fashion tycoon Yusaku Maezawa, 42, around the moon.
The mission is planned for 2023 and is thought to have cost Maezawa more than £87 million.
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