Virgin Galactic's space tourism rocket SpaceShipTwo achieved its first solo glide flight Sunday, another step in the company's eventual plans to fly paying passengers.

SpaceShipTwo was carried aloft by its mother ship to 45,000 feet and released over California's Mojave Desert. After the separation, SpaceShipTwo, manned by two pilots, flew freely for 11 minutes before landing at an airport runway, followed by the mother ship.

The entire test flight lasted about 25 minutes. "It flew beautifully," Virgin Galactic chief executive George Whitesides said.

Until now, SpaceShipTwo has flown attached to the wing of its special jet-powered mother ship, dubbed WhiteKnightTwo. Sunday was the first time the spaceship flew on its own. Whitesides said SpaceShipTwo will make a series of additional glide flights before rocketing to space.

Tickets to ride aboard SpaceShipTwo cost $200,000. About 370 customers have plunked down deposits totaling $50 million, according to Virgin Galactic.


Post a Comment

Newer Post Older Post Home