Spaceship Two: First Commercial Space Penetration Will Be By a Virgin. Ironic?
Of course I had to be in a class when Virgin Galactic finally cranked up the engine on their long-awaited Spaceship Two. I’ll comfort myself with the fact that after having waited this many years to get to see something like this happening, an extra couple of hours won’t make much difference. Suffice to say, I’m stoked, but what do you think? Check out the video below and share your thoughts after the break!
Richard Branson tweeted this morning about the successful flight, and of course there were no shortage of people around to record the event. After being dropped, as per usual, by its carrier, White Knight Two, Spaceship Two ignited its engines for a full 16 seconds, broke the sound barrier, then glided safely back to Earth for a celebratory hugfest. As everyone is, naturally, saying, this is a major breakthrough in the history of spaceflight, and will no doubt be remembered as one of many milestones on the way to humankind becoming a spacefaring, hopefully interplanetary, species.
Continuing on the Spaceship Two note, while reading up on this morning’s excitement I stumbled across a photo I hadn’t previously seen, taken a few weeks ago during one of Spaceship Two’s non-powered flight tests. Right off the bat I thought it had to be a composited photo, but surprisingly, no–it’s actually a real photo, taken by photographer Bill Deaver using a Nikon D90 camera, as pointed out by the fine folks at io9. Check the photo out for yourself, and be sure to click it to see the whole, giant thing in glorious bigness.