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Virgin Galactic Tests Spaceship Two

Alien presented a future in which the exploration of space was handed over to commercial, rather than governmental, oversight. Nothing good comes of this for the crew of the Nostromo, but hopefully this isn’t another case of science fiction prophesizing for future science fact.

The U.S. has already turned over a fair amount of the responsibility for space exploration to commercial enterprises, such as SpaceX, and Virgin Galactic has entered the race with the successful launch of its test ship, the Spaceship Two (SS2).

Virgin Galactic's Spaceship Two

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip2 under rocket power, its first ever since the program began in 2005. This photo was taken from a remote camera located at top of the ships' tail. Courtesy of Virgin Galactic.

“The first powered flight of Virgin Spaceship Enterprise was without any doubt, our single most important flight test to date,” said Virgin Galactic founder, Sir Richard Branson, about the April 29 launch. “For the first time, we were able to prove the key components of the system, fully integrated and in flight. Today’s supersonic success opens the way for a rapid expansion of the spaceship’s powered flight envelope, with a very realistic goal of full space flight by the year’s end. We saw history in the making today and I couldn’t be more proud of everyone involved.”

The SS2 has gone through a number of previous tests, but this marked the first time the ship’s hybrid engine had been tested. At 47,000 feet, pilot’s activated the rocket to produce a controlled 16 second engine burn which propelled the SS2 to Mach 1.2, breaking the sound barrier. As noted in the above quote, Virgin Galactic hopes to reach true space flight by the end of the year, marking its place among the other companies that have succeeded in space flight.

Below you’ll find a video about the test.

Source: Virgin Galactic

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