Surely you were among the 500 who signed up to be the first passengers on Virgin Galactic’s two-hour space flights at $200,000 a pop, right? Well, mark your calendar in 2014, when Sir Richard Branson says the flights will start.
Yesterday, Branson’s Virgin Galactic conducted a second rocket-powered supersonic test flight of the passenger spaceship it is developing.
The craft, dubbed SpaceShipTwo, reached an altitude of 69,000 feet over California’s Mojave Desert after it was dropped from a carrier aircraft and its rocket was ignited for a 20-second burn.
Two pilots and a flight test engineer were aboard as the craft reached a maximum speed of Mach 1.43, then glided to a landing at Mojave Air and Space Port. Both the altitude and speed exceeded marks set during the first rocket-powered flight last April.
Virgin Galactic is owned by Branson’s Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s Aabar Investments PJS.
“Virgin Galactic is now gearing up for the commercial service, finalizing cabin interiors, flight suits, training programs and the multiple other details required to offer hundreds of aspiring astronauts a safe and awe-inspiring journey,” said Branson in a video about Thursday’s test flight.
Virgin executives have said they expect to have 600 bookings in the first two years of service.
See the video below: