Virgin Arrives In Space For The First Time Ever

Virgin arrives in SpaceVirgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic, ‘the world’s first commercial spaceline,’ has arrived in space for the first time.

SpaceShipTwo, VSS Unity, took off early this morning on a carrier plane (December 13) at the Mojave Test Centre in California.

Shortly afterwards, it was released by its carrier plane at around 43,000 feet and climbed up to altitudes of approximately 271,000 feet – touching the edge of space, while marking a major achievement for the company.

As reported by the Independent, this journey into space is a major breakthrough in attempts to bring private space travel to the masses.

It also marked the plane’s fourth test flight and followed earlier setbacks in the firm’s space programme, reports the BBC. It’s the first time a US commercial human flight has reached space since 2011, when the space programme came to an end.

The firm took to social media to keep their followers updated with the progress of SpaceShipTwo, posting regular tweets throughout the day.

As the plane arrived in space, Sir Richard Branson’s firm wrote:

SpaceShipTwo, welcome to space.

Virgin Galactic first promised trips to space for tourists back in 2008, stating they’d be taking place ‘within 18 months’.

Yet delays meant this wasn’t the case, hence why this successful journey to the edges of space is regarded as such a breakthrough.

Virgin Galactic said before the flight they were ‘aiming to achieve a longer burn duration of our rocket motor resulting in us going higher than we have before’.

And that they did; The Verge reports the highest the plane had climbed prior to today was just over 32 miles, whereas it reached 51.5 miles today.

If, like me, you’re clueless about space – don’t worry, Virgin Galactic have us covered. In the lead-up to the journey, the firm revealed some facts about SpaceShipTwo to make it all a bit clearer for us.

The first being the specific name of the spacecraft – VSS Unity – was chosen by Professor Stephen Hawking. Which, let’s face it, is a massive claim to fame right there.

And the tribute to the physicist doesn’t stop there. Turns out, the iris of Stephen Hawking’s eye is featured on the side of the spacecraft.

If you don’t believe me, take a look below:

Other facts about the plane include the number of windows – 17 – allowing future astronauts a ‘great view’ of the cosmos and planet Earth.

SpaceShipTwo doesn’t have a front wheel, which makes the spacecraft lighter and more efficient in its design.

The firm also informed followers yesterday (December 12), the top speed SpaceShipTwo has ever reached is Mach 2.4. However, as of today’s journey they beat that, reaching 2.9 Mach – 2.9 times the speed of sound.

Woah. As clueless as I am, even I can tell that’s impressive.

It’s not known when the next phase will begin, or when ordinary folk like us will be able to hop on board, but as you’ve probably guessed, it’ll be pricey.

The company claims to have already sold hundreds of tickets for the experience at $250,000 a piece, with Leonardo DiCaprio reportedly owning one!

Sadly, I don’t have that kind of money knocking about so I’ll have to make do with ordinary planes for now. Ah well.

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