Feeds

Virgin Galactic trumpets SpaceShipTwo

'VSS Enterprise' unveiled at Spaceport America

High performance access to file storage

Virgin Galactic yesterday unveiled its SpaceShipTwo (SS2) passenger-carrying rocketplane in a lavish* ceremony at New Mexico's "Spaceport America".

The SS2 roll-out. Pic: Virgin Galactic

SS2 rolled out slung under the WhiteKnightTwo mothership, which will eventually carry it aloft to 50,000ft before the pair part company and a hybrid rocket engine blasts six SS2 passengers and two astronaut pilots on their sub-orbital joyride.

Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson enthused: “This is truly a momentous day. The team has created not only a world first but also a work of art. The unveil of SS2 takes the Virgin Galactic vision to the next level and continues to provide tangible evidence that this ambitious project is not only moving rapidly, but also making tremendous progress towards our goal of safe commercial operation.”

Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger was on hand to christen SS2 the "Virgin Space Ship (VSS) Enterprise" - something which is "not only an acknowledgement to that name’s honorable past but also looks to the future of the role of private enterprise in the development of the exploration, industrialisation and human habitation of space".

Before Branson sets about conquering the galaxy, SS2 will have to earn its "all required US government licensing" wings. Virgin Galactic says the design will be "refined and completed during an extensive test flying program to commence shortly".

The SS2 and mothership in the hangar. Pic: Virgin Galactic

Scaled Composites, which constructs both the SS2 and WhiteKnightTwo vehicles, will doubtless be hoping the former behaves itself during testing. The WhiteKnightTwo, aka VMS (Virgin Mothership) Eve, suffered a tail strike during a touch-and-go manoeuvre earliert this year, which prompted much press speculation about control issues.

There's more on Virgin Galactic's vehicles here. ®

Bootnote

*You've got to give Branson his due - he knows how to throw a spaceship party. Virgin Galactic's preview press release explained:

SpaceShipTwo will be unveiled after darkness has fallen over the Mojave Desert to the sound of a space-themed anthem from Britain’s biggest DJs, Above & Beyond. Fittingly titled “Buzz” the track will sample Buzz Aldrin’s original moon landing dialogue. Following the naming by Governors Richardson and Schwarzenegger, the DJs will also perform an exclusive set at the celebration cocktail party which will follow and feature the first ever IceBar in the desert hosted by Absolut and the world famous Swedish IceHotel. All the guests will be protected from the desert cold by designer space jackets supplied by PUMA.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight
It's going to be a slow and sleepy flight for the pilots
Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'
Plans to annex Earth's satellite with permanent base by 2030
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Saturn spotted spawning new FEMTO-MOON
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
Get your MOON GEAR: Auction to feature Space Race memorabilia
Keepsakes from early NASA, Soviet programs up for bids
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
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.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
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.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.