Capitalism in space: More than a decade later than initially promised, Virgin Galactic today finally made its first successful manned flight from Spaceport America in New Mexico.
The flight apparently reached 55 miles altitude before returning to Earth.
This was the first flight of VSS Unity since December 12, 2020, when the flight was aborted just one second after separating from its carrier airplane, WhiteKnightTwo, when a computer disconnected unexpectedly. Further delays followed:
The problems didn’t stop there, as in early May, a new issue crept up as a post-flight inspection of VMS Eve called for further engineering analysis to assess a known problem in the tail of the vehicle which was to be addressed during the next scheduled maintenance period. The company says that they have completed the analysis and determined that the structures are healthy and cleared Eve for flight.
Their plans are to do one more test flight, and then a “commercial” flight carrying company founder Richard Branson. Following that they will begin selling and flying tourists.
It appears however that they will have lost the race to fly the first suborbital tourist in space, as it appears that Blue Origin’s July 20th commercial flight will happen first.
From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.
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