Exorbitantly priced private space travel is closer to being a reality for a very, very small number of people! Late last week, a private spaceship built for rebel billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic made its first crewed flight. Don’t get too excited, though. The spaceliner didn’t go to space — it just cruised over California’s Mojave Desert.
Named the VSS Enterprise, the spaceliner flew for just over six hours, according to a Virgin Galactic statement. During the flight, two crew members evaluated systems and functions and not crashing and all that. As planned, the spaceship remained attached to its mothership, VMS Eve, for the entire flight.
If and when the Enterprise goes into space, it will first fly attached to the mothership to about 50,000, where it will then launch, its rocket engine propelling it 60 miles into space. Passengers will be able to see the curve of the earth and experience zero gravity.
According to the Virgin Galactic website, over 340 “Virgin Galactic astronauts,” aka people who are dropping $200,000 for space travel, have signed up for a spin on the spaceship. Future astronauts must put down a $20,000 deposit. Test flights of the VSS Enterprise are expected to continue through 2011.