Do you want to buy a ticket to outer space? Fly into orbit for the most breathtaking views of Earth possible? Well, those dreams for many took a step closer to reality yesterday as the world’s first commercial spaceport officially opened with dedication ceremonies for the new home of Virgin Galactic, Spaceport America, in New Mexico. It’s the beginning of a whole new space age…
With about 800 people attending, the terminal building was officially named “Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space” while its two spacecraft, WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo, flew overhead. The ceremonies were overseen by Virgin Galactic’s founder Sir Richard Branson. New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez and Congressman Steve Pearce were also in attendance. The ceremonies even included a performance, (on the side of the building!) by the dance troupe Project Bandaloop (see video below).
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“Today is another history-making day for Virgin Galactic,” said Sir Richard Branson. “We are here with a group of incredible people who are helping us lead the way in creating one of the most important new industrial sectors of the 21st century. We’ve never wavered in our commitment to the monumental task of pioneering safe, affordable and clean access to space, or to demonstrate that we mean business at each step along the way.”
This event marks a major milestone in the history of commercial spaceflight; once only the domain of NASA and other government space agencies, the space age is now finally really coming into its own, opening up the way for more ordinary citizens to leave Earth, at least to low-Earth orbit for now. Could space hotels be far behind?
“For me, my children and our ever growing community of future astronauts, many of whom are with us today, standing in front of the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space as it glimmers majestically under the New Mexican sun brings our space adventure so close we can almost taste it,” said Sir Richard.
Source: Virgin Galactic
6 Replies to “Spaceport America Opens With ‘Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space’”
and so it begins! and hopefully the price will only go down from here
The article implies that the Virgin SS2 can take people to low earth orbit. At this stage my understanding is that SS2 is designed for sub-orbital space only.
Does they even has plans for orbital flights? And if so, what kind of technology they gonna to develop to achieve it. So far, imho, their business is something similar to X planes in 50s and 60s. Achieve some height and fall back to the surface. At present implementation, Virgin suborbital flights has nothing similar to orbital flights. Nothing at all. If they gonna climb to orbit, it will be completely different technology. Even if it could be space plane launched from regular plane. Structural design, heatshield, mass… name it.
You can’t orbit without a heat shield with our current technology – since orbital velocity is around 100,000 km/h – and you will need to land back on Earth at 0 km/h. To slow down from such speeds you either need a heat shield to brake against the atmosphere – or a truckload of fuel to fire your retro rockets. And to get a truckload of fuel into orbit you first need several truckloads of fuel from launch… and well, forget it. You need a heat shield.
That’s a valid point, but is 100,000 km/h right?
It’s the orbital velocity of Earth about the Sun that is close to 100,000 km/h.
But the orbital velocity about Earth at LEO attitude for say the ISS is closer to 28,000 km/h.
A poor old ablative heat shield would be in for a thrashing if it had to decelerate from 100,000 km/h. Just sayin…
If more billionaires were to spend money on stuff like this, the world would be a much more awesome place. This isn’t like a rich person having a personal spacecraft built, this is a public craft that you can pay to ride on.
BAH! Enough of that “I wish” crap! This is what’s happening NOW! The spaceport is officially opened, and a new age has begun.
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