ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico-The final round of testing windows for Virgin Galactic’s rocket-powered spacecraft will open later this week as the company is moving towards commercial flight.
Mike Moses, president of Virgin Galactic, briefed the New Mexico state legislators on progress at a meeting on Monday. He said the space tourism company has completed nine flights from the US Spaceport in southern New Mexico, including two taxi flights by the spacecraft.
Although the exact date has not yet been determined, the upcoming test will mark Virgin Galactic’s third space flight and the first space flight in New Mexico. Moses called this an important milestone in the idea that was first proposed decades ago.
Moses said: “New Mexico will become California and Florida, becoming the only third state in the United States to carry human space missions and send people into space.”
For the test flight, two pilots will take spacecraft and cargo, including several research projects. Moses said that assuming everything goes well and the engineers sign and agree, then Virgin Galactic can enter the next phase, which will involve company mission experts and engineers being loaded into the cabin. They will evaluate all the hardware, camera settings and which angle will provide the best view.
He said: “For people, this will be a life-changing experience, and we want to make sure that we provide A+ riding.”
More than 600 customers from all over the world have purchased tickets, which will be launched to the lower edge of the space, where they can experience weightlessness and appreciate the earth below. The purpose of suborbital flight is to taxi to an altitude of at least 50 miles (80.5 kilometers) before landing.
In addition to those who made a deposit for a ride with Virgin Galactic, thousands of people have registered their interests online.
Many years ago, British billionaire Richard Branson and former Governor Bill Richardson hatched the idea of building a spaceport in the desert of New Mexico. Branson will be the first passenger sometime in the first quarter of next year.
Moses said: “He may be our biggest fan and our biggest critic, so he can help judge this experience better than him.”
This experience will take about an hour to climb to an altitude of about 50,000 feet (15 kilometers) and connect the spacecraft to a special jet-powered aircraft. Then the spacecraft will be released and the rocket engine will be ignited.
Moses explained: “We climbed to the height of space, but gravity won and pulled us back again.”
“We didn’t stay in orbit fast enough, so we just picked up up and down-the rocket engine burned for about one minute, lost weight for about four minutes, and then returned and landed in about fifteen minutes.”
Moses said that passengers will be able to see the Earth, similar to the first planetary photos taken from the V-2 rocket launched from the Baisha Missile Range east of the spaceport more than 70 years ago.
Post time: Oct-22-2020