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. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

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!
Cutting cancer rates: Data, models and a happy ending?
How surgery might be making cancer prognoses worse
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
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Brit balloon bod Bodnar overflies North Pole
B-64 amateur ultralight payload approaching second circumnavigation
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.
5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
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?