Feeds

Virgin Galactic spaceliner-piggyback craft delayed

Branson's economy-class rocketships not quite ready

High performance access to file storage

The "mothership" jet aboard which Richard Branson's planned space-tourism rocketplanes will ride piggyback has had its first flight delayed, according to reports. The WhiteKnight Two carrier craft had been expected to fly this month.

The WhiteKnightTwo on show to the public

The Rocketplane's reusable lower stage.

Flight International reports that the delay was announced by Will Whitehorn, president of the Virgin Galactic spaceline operation.

"The first flight trials will take place when we are ready and will definitely be this year and possibly within the next few weeks," said Whitehorn, quoted by Flight. He added that the WhiteKnight Two has already done taxiing trials.

The aircraft is a development from the original WhiteKnight which carried the famous Ansari X-prize winning SpaceShipOne on its flights into space. Virgin Galactic plans to commence trials of the SpaceShipTwo passenger-carrying rocketplanes next year.

The Virgin Galactic space-tourism fleet will operate from the new "Spaceport America" rocketport being purpose-built for it courtesy of the New Mexico state government (Virgin will lease the facility). It had originally been hoped that flights would commence in 2007, but there were long delays after a fatal rocketfuel explosion at the Mojave plant of Scaled Composites, the company building the spacecraft. Virgin now says it will start operations in 2010.

Wealthy passengers paying $200k each will enjoy a genuine trip into space complete with weightlessness. However, SpaceShipTwos and their like can't achieve orbital velocity: they merely fling themselves up out of the atmosphere ballistically before inevitably falling back in.

Real space tourism into actual orbit is on offer, in the form of visits to the International Space Station aboard a Russian Soyuz ship. But this costs roughly a hundred times more, and the ride is sometimes less than luxurious. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.