Feeds

Virgin Galactic to unveil tool to fling rich people into space

Hawaiian shirt flight suits still in design phase

Boost IT visibility and business value

Space tourism entrepreneurs at Virgin Galactic are poised to unveil the mothership that will launch the fabulously wealthy on ballistic arcs outside the Earth's atmosphere.

British billionaire Sir Richard Branson and American aerospace engineer Burt Rutan on Monday will host the public debut of WhiteKnightTwo at the Mojave Desert facilities of Scaled Composites, where the rocketship is being developed.

Scaled Composites first became famous by winning the Ansari X-prize in 2004 with two record-breaking flights by its re-usable manned suborbital craft, SpaceShipOne.

The mothership itself is not designed to leave the atmosphere, but will air launch the yet-to-be-finished SpaceShipTwo at an altitude of roughly 50,000 feet (15,151 meters). Once it breaks free, SpaceShipTwo will fire its rockets and take six passengers on a 2 1/2 hour ride into the Earth's thermosphere at approximately three times the speed of sound.

Although the voyage is expected to only include about five minutes of weightlessness, more than 250 space tourism hopefuls have already paid or put down deposits for the $200,000 tickets.

Currently SpaceShipTwo is about 70 per cent complete, the company estimates. Virgin Galactic has not yet set a date for when passengers will get a ride, but expects the earliest flights could be late 2009 or early 2010.

The pioneering spaceship company suffered a tragedy on July 2007, when three employees were killed and another three badly hurt when a propellant system exploded at the high desert test site.

Scaled Composites, now owned by Northrop Grumman Corp is currently appealing a $28,870 state fine for workplace violations in connection with the explosion. ®

Bootnote

The maiden voyage of SpaceShipTwo has been reserved for Branson and his family. If providence takes its proper dramatic cue, a storm of cosmic rays is expected to bombard the experimental rocket ship and give the family of four bizarre and exciting new abilities.

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!
Spanish launch goes titsup, we're off to the US of A
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
Boffins build CYBORG-MOTHRA but not for evil: For search & rescue
This tiny bio-bot will chew through your clothes then save your life
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?