VSS Enterprise: SpaceShipTwo Capture/Carry with WhiteKnightTwo

Discussion in 'Modern' started by Matt308, Dec 7, 2009.

  1. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    Tonight's Hollywood-style debut of the world's first commercial suborbital spaceship was a spine-tingling affair - and not just because of the historic setting, the appearance by a movie star turned governor, or the ice-cold vodka served afterward. It was cold out here in California's Mojave Desert.

    Virgin Galactic's unveiling of the SpaceShipTwo rocket plane drew hundreds of paying space tourists and travel agents, rocket geeks and glitterati to the Mojave Air and Space Port. For a while, it looked as if stormy skies and brisk winds would force a change in Virgin billionaire founder Richard Branson's plans for an after-dark, outdoor debut.

    But in the end, the spotlights went on and the music blared as scheduled, despite the near-freezing temperatures, the wind and the puddles of rain. SpaceShipTwo rolled down the runway, suspended from its WhiteKnightTwo carrier airplane. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson stepped out and smashed bottles of champagne - and Branson's daughter, Holly, officially gave the 60-foot-long craft its new name: the VSS Enterprise.

    The name pays tribute to the sailing ships of old as well, to the fictional "Star Trek" starship - and to the idea that the craft will bring private enterprise into the world of space travel, said Virgin Galactic's president, Will Whitehorn.

    SpaceShipTwo has been under development for years in a Mojave hangar at Scaled Composites - the company that built the craft's predecessor, SpaceShipOne, to win a $10 million prize for private spaceflight five years ago.

    http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2009/12/07/2143953.aspx?GT1=43001

    The aerospace guru behind both rocket planes, Burt Rutan, is known for playing his cards close to the vest - and today's unveiling marked the first opportunity for outsiders to get a close look at his latest brainchild. Rutan told the hundreds of onlookers assembled under a large plastic shelter that he considered himself "the luckiest guy in the tent."

    Unlike Rutan, Branson is known for playing up the glitz game to market his ventures - and tonight's main event was a Virgin classic: Within minutes after the rollout, the tent was transformed into a lounge, complete with an ice bar, buffet and techno music on the public address system.

    Schwarzenegger, who left right after the christening, said he was tickled to be part of the event. "This here today is one of the coolest things I've ever done," Schwarzenegger told the crowd. Even his kids were jealous, he said.


    Enterprise's unveiling marks the beginning of a new phase for Virgin Galactic, coming after last year's big reveal for SpaceShipTwo's WhiteKnightTwo carrier airplane (dubbed "Eve" in honor of Branson's mother) and this year's successful series of rocket engine tests. "Virgin Galactic is now in the final stretch of becoming the world's first commercial spaceline," Branson declares in a promotional video.

    Branson is spending an estimated $250 million to $400 million on his space venture, which will involve building at least six SpaceShipTwo planes and two WhiteKnightTwo motherships. The company already has signed up more than 300 would-be spacefliers, including actress Victoria Principal, Hollywood director Bryan Singer and 90-year-old enviro-theorist James Lovelock. Paralyzed cosmologist Stephen Hawking, who sampled zero-G two years ago, may eventually fly as well.

    The price for a three-day space tour package, including training, is $200,000. That price is expected to come down as the space tourism market takes root.
     

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  2. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    Very interesting.
     
  3. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    Dang. I'll have to wait till they have an after-Christmas sale or something.
     
  4. wheelsup_cavu

    wheelsup_cavu Well-Known Member

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    It's going to have to be one heck of a sale. :lol:

    Now the next hurdle is going to be if they really get it off the ground commercially.
    It is a bit pricey yet to make it something for John Q Public.


    Wheels
     
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