Tourist Spaceplane Crushes Altitude Records
Just last night, Virgin Galactic's spaceplane climbed 32 miles over California's Mojave Desert in its latest test flight. That crushed all of its previous records. This is the 3rd rocket powered test flight of VSS Unity spaceplane. It brings Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic space tourism company very close to taking its first tourism customers into space.
The spaceplane was released from under the wing of its carrier plane at 46,500 feet. VSS Unity fired its rocket motors for 42 seconds to propel itself and the 2 pilots at Mach 2.47 or 2&1/2times the speed of sound. The spaceplane reached an altitude of 170,800 feet or essentially halfway to outer-space before safely descending to its spaceport in the Mojave Desert. Mission accomplished.
Get Ready for Tourist Takeoffs
Branson is indicating that Virgin Galactic could start commercial flights for space tourists soon, even this year. 800 people have booked at $250,000 each. There's significant competition in this emerging market, including Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin that offer tourists brief suborbital trips. Bon Voyage!!