SpaceShipTwo successfully completed its third powered test flight today.

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The competition heats up: SpaceShipTwo successfully completed its third powered test flight today.

On release, SS2’s rocket motor was ignited, powering the spaceship to a planned altitude of 71,000 ft. – SS2’s highest altitude to date – and a maximum speed of Mach 1.4. SS2’s unique feather re-entry system was also tested during today’s flight. Two important SS2 systems, the RCS [reaction control system] and thermal protection coating, were tested during today’s flight in preparation for upcoming full space flights. The spaceship’s RCS will allow its pilots to maneuver the vehicle in space, permitting an optimal viewing experience for those on board and aiding the positioning process for spacecraft re-entry. The new reflective protection coating on SS2’s inner tail boom surfaces is being evaluated to help maintain vehicle skin temperatures while the rocket motor is firing.



  • Cotour

    Q: What do you suppose the pilot and the co pilot will be paid for each flight, this being a commercial and not a military / government endeavor?

  • Pzatchok

    I’m sure they are on salary.

  • Cotour

    If that were true I would think a salary with an established bonus per flight. I think this lies just a bit outside of the norm.

  • After they run out of rich people willing to buy tickets, what is the long-term use of this vehicle?

  • Chris L

    Define long term. There are a lot of rich people who want to be able to say they went into space. At any realistic flight schedule, it will take years to get them all there. A number of them will also want to go more than once. So I think Branson and company will have plenty of work once this thing (pun alert) takes off.

  • Edward

    A large number of scientists and engineers have expressed interest in using SpaceShip2 and XCore’s Lynx for short-duration microgravity research. XCore seems to think that such research may be half of their business. I don’t think that these companies will have any shortage of paying customers until prices for orbital launches come way, way down.

    And by then, they may have developed their own orbital launch vehicles and *still* be the launch companies of choice.

  • We should try our best to eliminate the myth that the majority of Virgin Galactic’s customers are rich and/or famous.

    There’s plenty of ordinary people who dream of flying into space and have taken not so extraordinary means to buy themselves a ticket. VG started accepting bookings in 2005, requiring a $20k deposit. The balance requires only $20k/year to be saved, which is well within the means of many average people.

    Now, if only someone would start flying them…

  • Pzatchok

    I don’t think having them on salary would be outside the norm.

    The pilots could be around for all aspects of maintenance and building of the craft. They would then have as much input as possible into the features they want.
    Not all pilots want things exactly the same in every cockpit and being able to tell them them he would like the altimeter on the left instead of the right does have its advantages to many pilots.

    They might not even be required to be there everyday and they might have other full time jobs in the airline industry.

    And having them on salary is not that much compared to the overall cost of the whole program.

    Lets just say there is nothing outside the norm in an industry that if pretty much totally outside the norm.

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