Money Matters - Simplified

FAA ok’s flight permit to Virgin Galactic’s spaceship

SpaceShipTwo is funded by U.K. billionaire Richard Branson and has been built with the support of famed aviation designer Burt Rutan.

In what can be termed as a major step towards commercializing space tourism, Virgin Galactic’s spaceline will soon be taking tourists beyond the atmosphere.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has given the manufacturer Mojave, California-based Scaled Composites an experimental launch permit for its SpaceShipTwo which is air-launched from a twin-fuselage carrier aircraft WhiteKnightTwo.

The green light was given after Scaled submitted detailed flight plans and aerodynamic test data.

George Whitesides, president and CEO of Virgin Galactic stated, ”This important milestone enables our team to progress to the rocket-powered phase of test flight, bringing us a major step closer to bringing our customers to space."

"We thank the FAA for their timely issuance of this permit, and for their responsible oversight of the test program.”

Around 500 people, including actor Ashton Kutcher have already paid around $200,000 each and are eagerly waiting for the first ride of the spaceship.

Made significant progress in flight test program
The SpaceShipTwo airframe and its host aircraft WhiteKnightTwo have completed 80 test flights.

The carrier airplane is through its test plan, while the SpaceShipTwo has safely completed sixteen free flights, including three that tested the vehicle’s unique “feathering” re-entry system.

With the permit in hand, Scaled can now move towards rocket-powered test flights.

"With this permit now in hand, Scaled is now authorised to press onward towards rocket-powered test flights," says Virgin Galactic. "Scaled expects to begin rocket-powered, supersonic flights under the just-issued experimental permit toward the end of the year."

First commercial spacecraft ever
SpaceShipTwo is funded by U.K. billionaire Richard Branson and has been built with the support of famed aviation designer Burt Rutan.

SpaceShipTwo is a replica of SpaceShipOne that completed the first privately funded human spaceflight on June 21, 2004 as part of the Ansari X Prize competition.

At 60 feet length, it is double the size of SpaceShipOne and can carry six passengers and two pilots.

Virgin Galactic expects to proceed with the first powered test of the spaceship later this year. The participants will experience some five minutes of weightlessness and will see the curve of Earth set against the black sky of space.

Around 500 people, including actor Ashton Kutcher have already paid around $200,000 each and are eagerly waiting for the first ride of the spaceship.