Atlanta,US DEC-1: During an interview with CNN, Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson said is he is “pretty confident” his space tourism venture will complete its first crewed test flight before Christmas.
Virgin Galactic is a spaceflight company within the Virgin Group. It is developing commercial spacecraft and aims to provide suborbital spaceflights to space tourists and suborbital launches for space science missions. Virgin Galactic plans to provide orbital human spaceflights.
The plan, according to Branson, is for test pilots to complete the first few flights solo. Those pilots will operate Virgin Galactic’s rocket-powered SpaceShip two (SS2) Spaceplane, which won’t actually launch from the ground, it will start a ride up to an elevation of roughly 15 kilometers (9.4 miles) via a jet-powered mothership.
At that point, the SS2 will detach and accelerate to a top speed of approximately 2,300 miles per hour in about eight seconds, said Branson.
Till today, the highest altitude reached by an SS2 is 32.3 miles, but now the goal is to hit 50 miles.
This flight will not actually be reached in ‘space’ because the International Space Station is 254 miles above Earth’s surface, but the trip would afford tourists the ability to experience weightlessness and provide them with a view of the Earth’s curved horizon.
“Space is difficult. Rocket science is rocket science,” Branson told in the interview. “I obviously would love to prove our critics wrong, and I’m reasonably confident that before Christmas, we will do so.”