vss-enterprise_glide-flight-01_1History was made on October 10, 2010 when Virgin Galactic’s space ship VSS Enterprise completed her first solo glide and landing.

The spaceship was released from its mothership, WhiteKnightTwo (Eve), at an altitude of 45,000 feet. The two main goals of the flight were to carry out a clean release of the spaceship from its mothership and for the pilots to free fly and glide back and land at Mojave Air and Spaceport in California. Click here to watch footage of the historic flight.

The world’s first commercial space line has conducted 39 system test flights to date, culminating with this latest milestone. More glide tests are on the way prior to powered testing which will lead up to full commercial operations.

Virgin Galactic is now well on the way to becoming the world’s first commercial space line with 370 customer deposits totaling $50 million.  Commercial flights will begin after comprehensive flight testing and finalizing regulatory approvals. Nearly 400 future astronauts have already signed up to make history of their own.  Virtuoso has exclusive rights to sell Virgin Galactic space travel in the Americas.  Deposits start from $20,000.

Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, who was present during the flight, commented, “This was one of the most exciting days in the whole history of Virgin. For the first time since we seriously began the project in 2004, I watched the world’s first manned commercial spaceship landing on the runway at Mojave Air and Space Port and it was a great moment. Now, the sky is no longer the limit and we will begin the process of pushing beyond to the final frontier of space itself over the next year.”

For more information, visit the Virgin Galactic website.

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One comment

  1. I think this is one of the few times imo when privatization is a really good idea. Whether we think it’s necessary or not, we need to continue to develop new forms of space travel and technology to facilitate it. What the ppl whose only argument is “we have too many problems down here to be worrying about this,” they fail to understand the two most important implications of aeronautical research. The first is for national defense… it’s bad enough that nasa has to rely on Russia to ferry them to the ISS. If we keep going at this rate, our disadvantage will only grow as they continue to develop new technologies in their space program while we pump the brakes on ours. Is air and space superiority something you really want the Russians to have? It doesn’t seem like a good idea for any one country to have, let alone one whom we have a sketchy history with. The second is that with aeronautical research comes a flood of new technologies, most of which are very applicable to us down on earth. For example, if it wasn’t for nasa, we wouldn’t have the chips that we use for non-invasive biopsies, solar energy, and a whole litany of other things (http://www.thespaceplace.com/nasa/spinoffs.html#Top has a good number of inventions that most of us don’t know came from our space program). And if you’re one of those ppl that are so skeptical (or cynical imo) that you still don’t think that any of the things on this list warrant a larger investment in a privatized space industry, just remember that while you sleep at night, you most likely have nasa to thank for that, too. If you use any type of home security system, chances are they use infrared and laser technology that came out of nasa’s research (just look at the adt home security infrared camera page. They even admit that the technology came from nasa!)

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