Feeds

Richard Branson gets nod to strap rocket on SpaceShipTwo

Supersonic Virgin Galactic test flights this year

High performance access to file storage

Virgin Galactic has finally got the green light to attempt supersonic rocket-powered SpaceShipTwo flights at the end of the year.

The SpaceShipTwo craft takes to the air carried by its WhiteKnightTwo mothership. Credit: Virgin Galactic

The SpaceShipTwo craft takes to the air carried by its WhiteKnightTwo mothership

The millionaire transporter has got an experimental launch permit from the US Federal Aviation Administration for the ship and its carrier aircraft, the WhiteKnightTwo, the space biz announced.

The pair have already done some flying together but haven't done any rocket-powered flight yet.

The WhiteKnightTwo has done 80 test flights and the SS2 has been up 16 times, including three tests that checked out the craft's re-entry system. Virgin have also fired the tyre-rubber-and-laughing-gas-powered rocket in 10 tests, successfully completing full duration burns, but this is the first time they'll be strapping it on the SS2 for a test fire.

Scaled Composites, the spacecraft builder, will fly the SS2 a couple of more times with the unlit rocket aboard to ensure the ship works well with the extra weight. In the meantime, integration of the rocket's components through the summer before a full blasting flight expected towards the end of the year.

The SS2, which can carry six passengers and two pilots, is based on Scaled's SpaceShipOne, which won the $10m Ansari X Prize in 2004 for the first privately funded human spaceflights.

So far, Virgin Galactic, owned by Brit billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson and Abu Dhabi government investment firm Aabar Investments, has signed up 500 passengers to their space joyrides, including celebs like Ashton Kutcher and Angelina Jolie and scientists like Stephen Hawking and James Lovelock, famous for proposing the Gaia theory. ®

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
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
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.