Virgin Galactic, the spaceflight division of Richard Branson's Virgin Group, formally unveiled its first spacecraft in New York City today. The ship, named SpaceShipTwo, is nearing the final phases of construction by Scaled Composites.
The risks of spaceflight have not deterred others. Virgin Galactic claims up to 200 people have already booked seats on the sub-orbital craft through 2009. Though the initial ticket price is $200,000, a British businessman named Alan Watts was able to redeem two million frequent flier miles for a 2009 flight. Branson promised that after the first 100 passengers, the deposit cost will dip to $100,000 for the next 400 passengers.
Eventually, Branson hopes to bring suborbital flight to as low as $20,000 per person.
The ship will reach a maximum altitude of 68 miles, just exceeding the formal boundary of space. Total time for each flight is projected to be in the 2.5 hour range, which includes six minutes of weightlessness at the peak of the suborbital phase.
The spacecraft will fold its wings up for reentry into atmosphere, then fold them back again immediately before landing.
Launches will occur from underneath a mother ship known as WhiteKnightTwo, also unveiled in New York today. All flights will originate from Upham, New Mexico.
quote: though Shatner then publicly made the claim, "I do want to go up, but I need guarantees I'll definitely come back."
quote: but I'm not going with a 2% chance of death
quote: Personally, I think a person whose grown rich and famous from portraying a space captain would want to visit space at least once before he dies, particularly since the trip is free.
quote: waiting until hundreds of others have already flown, and it's no more adventurous than a bus trip across town is always an option.
quote: Of course, that depends on what your goals are. If they're simply to get rich and famous without advancing society in any way...why then, you're right, why take the risk?
quote: Branson thought Shatner in space would advance the company enough to more than pay for the cost of a free ticket.
quote: orgies in 0g
quote: Advancing private spaceflight does advance society. A hell of a lot more than the other cause actors typically support.
quote: Believe it or not, a lot of wealthy people are no more intelligent than "the masses". The fact that a name they know well chose to fly WILL have an impact.
quote: Your ancestors were braver than you. And lucky of us also...or else this nation would have never been born.
quote: The issue isn't patriotism; it's the courage of the frontier spirit...or lack of it, as the case may be. The fact remains that, had your ancestors not posssessed that spirit and risked their lives, the nation would indeed not have been born.
quote: Get real. Either they already wanted to go into space, or they didn't. If they didn't, seeing Shatner fly isn't going to change their mind.
quote: A lot of famous actors believe they should "give something back" to the fans that made them rich. I guess Shatner doesn't feel that way. Oh well.
quote: Going on this flight would not give anything back to the fans.
quote: (an ex-fan rather)
quote: Of course, waiting until hundreds of others have already flown, and it's no more adventurous than a bus trip across town is always an option. Does that really meet the goal though?
quote: should decompression occur and shatner be exposed to space, he'll either burn to a crisp if he hits sunlight, freeze over if he's in the shadow, or blow up like a balloon, faster then you can show me any fireman's death in a fire...
quote: a 78 year old retired actor shouldn't really be compared concerning physical shape to an 77 year old veteran astronaut.
quote: Sounds like you've been watching too many Hollywood movies.
quote: Even the earliest astronauts would ask for SOME guarantee they would come back. Wouldnt you?