Virgin Galactic's space plane made its first manned glide flight on 10/10/10, proving the spaceship's airworthiness and further paving the way for future space tourism trips.
The W-shaped VSS Enterprise separated from its mothership Sunday around 45,000 feet. Test pilot Pete Siebold and co-pilot Mike Alsbury safely glided to a landing at Mojave Air and Spaceport, Virgin Galactic said. Check out the video below.
The carbon-fiber plane is a direct descendant of SpaceShipOne, the Burt Rutan creation that won the Ansari X Prize.
In a press release, Siebold said the plane was "a joy to fly."
The Enterprise is one of the world's highest-altitude gliders, and is also capable of reaching Mach 3 speeds in order to rocket into space.
In the weeks prior to the flight, mothership WhiteKnightTwo (this one is called Eve) flew 40 flights, including four captive-carry flights, to make sure systems were functioning properly.
Sunday's flight was designed to test Enterprise's flight profile; Siebold and Alsbury tested the vehicle's handling and stall characteristics, stability and control, and lift-to-drag profile, according to Virgin Galactic. The trip pretty much represents what will happen when Virgin Galactic starts taking tourists into space.
More than 370 people have already put down deposits totaling $50 million in anticipation of those space flights.
I bet a lot of those 370 people will have second thoughts when they are asked to sign the waiver due to the inherent risk they are about to undertake. It's one thing to sign a waiver for needed surgery, it's another thing to sign one for a joy ride. This thing won't be certified the way commercial aircraft are certified. Instead, there will be a document for "informed consent" that passengers will have to sign.
Burt Rutan and his team have had a lot of innovative ideas over the years, but they are still taking risks with this project that most people will find unacceptable.
@Spacegeek - You have to admit though that there's bound to be at least 370 people out of 6 billion on the planet who wouldn't care about the risks. Just think about all the crazy crap people do and there's bound to be people who would think it awesome to fly commerecially in space and some who would be honored to be the first people to die in space. After all, some relgious people are happy to die for their cause, there are people who die during joy rides everyday, and I'm sure you could find people who would die for space travel so it's actually not an issue at all.
what a piece of crap
One step closer to Blue Gender
With any emerging technology that's how they have always done it, they did the same thing with the first commercial airplanes if I remember correctly. Look it up and see. Don't be a party pooper folks lol.
i just like the idea of a YouTube video with "exclusive footage" in the title.
Virgin investigated for price fixing.
One might think their **right** TO fly ANYTHING should be retracted.
"Airline passengers are estimated to have paid £35m over the odds in fuel surcharges because BA and Virgin Atlantic colluded on prices between August 2004 and January 2006."
Man, that was a smooth landing and then some.
As far as the party poopers go, some people are just jealous maybe because they do the same bs everyday.
Anyways, I own both DVD's from the Discovery Channel specials about the old X-Prize flights. Can't wait for the next videos in HD. Let's rock.