Feeds

Virgin Galactic spaceliner-piggyback craft delayed

Branson's economy-class rocketships not quite ready

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
Volcanic eruption in Iceland triggers CODE RED aviation warning
Lava-spitting Bárðarbunga prompts action from Met Office
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
Major cyber attack hits Norwegian oil industry
Statoil, the gas giant behind the Scandie social miracle, targeted
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
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.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise 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?