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VSS Enterprise Mock-Up 2006-09-29

Posted by clype in Articles of Interest, Gizmo, Money, Science.

Sir Richard Branson has unveiled a mock-up of the rocket-powered vehicle that will carry clients into space through his ‘Virgin Galactic‘ business.

[Picture of Press Launch]

The ‘Virgin’ spaceships are designed to carry six passengers and two pilots to an altitude of about 140 km on a sub-orbital space flight.

Tickets on a ‘Virgin Galactic’ flight are expected to cost 100 000 GBP.

The mock-up of the spacecraft was unveiled at the ‘Javits Exhibition Center‘ in New York, USA on Thursday 2006-09-28.

The ‘Virgin’ craft are based on the design of ‘SpaceShipOne’ (SS1), built by aviation pioneer Mr.Burt Rutan, which became the first privately built vehicle to reach space in 2004.

‘SpaceShipOne’ made three flights to altitudes just greater than 100 km — the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere — claiming the prestigious ‘Ansari X-Prize’.

Public access

The rocket plane was first carried to a launch altitude of 15 km by an aircraft, or mothership, called ‘White Knight’.

It was then released and ignited its rocket engine, which propelled it through the atmosphere.

The 5.7 million GBP ‘Ansari X-Prize’ was offered to the first non-government, manned flight into space.

‘Virgin Group’ has contracted Mr.Rutan’s company ‘Scaled Composites‘ to design and build the passenger spaceship ‘VSS Enterprise’ and its mothership. ‘Virgin Galactic’ will own and operate at least five spaceships and two motherships.

  • The passenger flights, which could begin in 2009, will take off from a 127 million GBP facility called ‘Spaceport America’ in the New Mexico desert.

Edinburgh-born Mr.Will Whitehorn, president of ‘Virgin Galactic’, said the firm was in negotiations over a reality TV show.

In the show, contestants would compete to win a place on a space flight, ‘The Press Association’ reported.

Mr .Whitehorn said:

[Picture of Will Whitehorn]
‘The indications are that we can create a show that would give people the chance to go into space.

‘It would be a cross between “Dr Who”, “Star Trek” and “The Krypton Factor”.’

‘Virgin Galactic’ is one of several private firms vying to open up public access to space.

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