Feeds

FAA: All systems GO for Virgin Galactic space plane to launch from US

As soon as it can get the thing into space, that is

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

Beardy Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic is one step closer to opening its cabin doors for business, having secured authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration to launch its rocket plane from US soil.

The Virgin mogul's space tourism outfit announced on Thursday that it has reached an agreement with the FAA that spells out how the agency will provide clear airspace for Virgin Galactic's space missions.

The company will work with the FAA's Albuquerque Air Route Traffic Control Center and the New Mexico Spaceport Authority to coordinate its commercial flights, which it plans to launch from Spaceport America, located in the New Mexico desert.

In addition, Virgin Galactic has secured agreements with the FAA's Joshua Control Facility and Edwards Air Force Base to continue its tests in California.

"As a whole, these agreements provide coverage for the company's airspace needs through the remainder of the test flight program in California and into commercial service in New Mexico," the company said in a canned statement.

The announcement was made mere hours before Elon Musk's SpaceX, Branson's main rival in the commercial space race, unveiled its new Dragon V2 spacecraft at an event in Hawthorne, California.

Branson says his outfit plans to start launching well-heeled passengers into space by the end of this year, and that more than 600 people have plonked down $250,000 apiece for the privilege – including Mark Zuckerberg nemeses Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who paid in Bitcoin.

On top of the fee, each passenger will have to undergo some medical checks and complete a three-day training course before boarding Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo rocket plane.

It's a bit early for them to start queuing up just yet, though. SpaceShipTwo is still undergoing testing, and has so far only flown a handful of missions, each taking it a little bit further up into Earth's atmosphere.

The most recent such test, conducted in January, saw it reach a maximum height of 71,000 feet – which, while fairly impressive by ordinary aviation standards, is still almost 200,000 feet shy of what the US Air Force considers "space". ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
Microsoft: We're making ONE TRUE WINDOWS to rule us all
Enterprise, Windows still power firm's shaky money-maker
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.