For the first time, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, named the Enterprise, flew with crew on board. While it stayed attached to the “Eve” mothership for the duration of the July 15 flight, Scaled Composites – the builders of the spacecraft – called the flight a “significant milestone as the team marches towards the first solo flights.” Numerous combined vehicle systems tests were conducted, as two crew members on board VSS Enterprise evaluated all of the spaceship’s systems and functions from end to end in the air, and all objectives were achieved.
This was the third time the Enterprise had flown in its “captive carry” configuration, but the first time with crew on board. It was the 33rd flight for WhiteKnightTwo, also known as Eve. The flight time was 6 hours 12 minutes.
The crew on the Enterprise was Peter Siebold, Michael Alsbury, and on board Eve were Mark Stucky, Peter Kalogiannis, and Brian Maisler.
SpaceShipTwo can fly up to eight people (six passengers and two pilots) on suborbital flights that would provide a weightless experience for 4-6 minutes. Will Whitehorn, president of Virgin Galactic, has stated that the company would “not put a definite timeline on when the commercial flights would begin” but if all goes according to plan they hope to make their first passenger flights in 2011. Tickets are on sale for $200,000 per person.