Virgin Galactic, the developer of the world's first commercial space flights
, announced the successful completion today of the first piloted free flight of the VSS Enterprise. Pilots Pete Siebold and Mike Alsbury flew the historic first-manned flight. The flight's mission was twofold in purpose. A clean release of the spacecraft from its mothership, the WhiteKnightTwo, and the pilots manning the vessel were the primary objectives of the flight.
The VSS Enterprise was released from its mothership, the WhiteKnight2, at an altitude approximating 45,000 feet. The VSS then glided for 11 minutes before settling in and landing at the Mojave Air and Space Port.
"This was one of the most exciting days in the whole history of Virgin," said company founder Sir Richard Branson." For the first time since we seriously began the project in 2004, I watched the world?s first manned commercial spaceship landing on the runway at Mojave Air and Space Port, and it was a great moment. Now, the sky is no longer the limit and we will begin the process of pushing beyond to the final frontier of space itself over the next year.?
Branson's company is on path to becoming the world's first commercial space line. deposits have been received from 370 customers that total to $50 million. National Geographic will broadcast a documentary in preparation of he first flight of VSS Enterprise on October 18 at 10 p.m.
Mr. George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic,, who witnessed the flight, said, ?To see the world?s first manned commercial spaceship landing on a runway is a sight I always dreamed I would behold. Now, our challenge going forward will be to complete our experimental program, obtain our FAA license and safely bring the system into service at Spaceport America, New Mexico.?
Source: Virgin Galactic
Photo Credit: Mark Greenburg