Enterprise’s First Captive Flight – Air and Space Magazine: Virgin Galactic’s VSS Enterprise, the civilian-built and -flown spaceship that will loft six paying tourists and two pilots on suborbital flights for $200,000 per customer, made its first captive carry flight on March 22, 2010 beneath its mothership WhiteKnightTwo over the southern California desert




  1. DavidtheDuke says:

    Hey Gasper, don’t let it auto-play, my boss is walking around, jeez!

    [Ed – No worries little tiny duke, fixed. By the way, you could also wear headphones]

  2. jmsiowa says:

    dito on the auto play crap

  3. lakelady says:

    you guys beat me to it. why would anyone EVER use autoplay? UGH.

  4. jet70 says:

    noscript = no autoplay

  5. Buzz says:

    31 – 22 = 9

    News!

  6. MrWindows says:

    The F-82 TwinMustang Rides again!

  7. GrayOne says:

    It’s been a long road, getting from there to here.

    It’s been a long time, but my time is finally near.

    And I can feel the change in the wind right now. Nothing’s in my way.

    And they’re not gonna hold me down no more, no they’re not gonna hold me down.

  8. RSweeney says:

    wow.

    May be time to sell some stock.

  9. Riker17 says:

    Nice job, GrayOne! I like those lyrics as well.

  10. smartalix says:

    Consumer spaceflight will soon be a reality. Sweet. NASA should get deeper into pure tech and long-term deep-space exloration, leaving near-earth and earth-orbit development to the private sector.

  11. KD Martin says:

    Watch the video on Cage Match.

    You can set 720p plus full screen for a better picture.

  12. bobbo, the evangelical anti-theist says:

    Saw that Branson is also designing/building a three man sub reported to go as deep as 70,000 feet. I guess he’s designing and building a tunnel boring machine too?

    What a life that guy is living.

  13. bobbo, Int'l pastry chef and Marketing Guru says:

    Would Virgin Galactic’s VSS Titanic give this enterprise a different market appeal?

  14. LDA says:

    #13 bobbo

    His F1 team designed their car (VR-01) on computers (CFD) and accidentally made the fuel tank too small to finish a race (no refuelling allowed this year). Everyone makes mistakes but maybe he should focus on less projects at one time.

  15. jmsiowa says:

    #15
    His F1 team designed their car (VR-01) on computers (CFD) and accidentally made the fuel tank too small to finish a race (no refuelling allowed this year). Everyone makes mistakes but maybe he should focus on less projects at one time.

    Another reason to not watch F1. races are to short.

  16. LDA says:

    #16 jmsiowa

    The Melbourne Grand Prix was very entertaining. The races are not too short, the fuel tank is too small.

  17. AlanB says:

    I love this stuff. Not the ride to space thing but more the technology and the fact it’s being done without government involvement. Takes money to get something like this done. The kind of money that other MS guy has. Glad he’s such a visionary.

    http://bit.ly/SpaceShipOne

    Not to mention it’s such a beautiful craft.

  18. nyc says:

    so I am a little confused was this just a test run?

  19. Buzz says:

    Most people have never pulled more than one G.

    At 3 Gs, you are very uncomfortable. At least that’s my evaluation from experience in a flight on NASA 930. Astronauts got the full pull on that aircraft while civilians and filmmakers got a kinder 2 G ride. I flew with a bunch of Canadian Astronaut trainees and other researchers long ago.

    The transition to weightless on that aircraft was gentler than it will be on the VSS Enterprise, where the gradual or abrupt fuel burn-out will be the only “cushion.” If it is sudden, expect immediate “reactions.”

    About 2/3 of weightless passengers get sick. I now know why. The body is a bottle, organized to stand upright or lying down. Weightlessness is half-like standing on your head. Everything in the bottle is free to… rush out your mouth.

    My strategy for lunch before the flight (and the astronauts love to give civilians tasty things to puke) was to get a sandwich of gooey crawfish filling, under the theory that sticky stuff would be less likely to migrate out of the tummy.

    It worked. But I could tell from the sequence of transitions between heavy G and no G why people often get nauseous.

    The whole inside of the plane had to be made to be easily wiped clean, and on entering it, there was this… erm… odor.

    I haven’t pulled six, but that’s the top a human in supreme health can go unassisted, they say, and I can’t imagine how tough that would be for minutes on end. My 3 G experience was only transitional in the Vomit Comet, c. 15-20 seconds per transition. Still with 40 transitions in an afternoon, it was very taxing. My total weightlessness time: around 14 minutes. My cost: $0.

    VSS Enterprise customers, take notes. Here’s what your $ two hundred grand gets you. Things they might not emphasize include:

    • You will be entering a tiny, confined space that will be padded with a non-porous covering so your puke won’t get into anything vital, like seat mechanisms, instruments, air vents, etc. You will likely wear eye protection. Puke is acidic.

    • You have about a 70% chance to find the experience sickening. Half of your fellow travelers will likely puke. Some of it will get on you, and everything else.

    • Weightlessness is not comfortable until you spend hours in that state and your body adjusts. Source: Orbiting astronauts, as a group. Weasel Republican Senator Jake Garn got violently sick when riding the Space Shuttle in STS-51-D. The most violent ill weightless reaction is now known as “One Garn.”

    • The gee whiz factor of weightlessness is fun, and with enough room to spread out, it can be a blast, but that VSS Enterprise cabin is barely enough room to leave the fetal position (O.D: 7.5 ft, I.D: six ft-ish). You can NOT fly, spread out enough to tumble and swoop without bumping into walls and people, and you are sharing the flight with seven other folks, rubbing more than shoulders. Total volume of space: less than a hospital elevator.

    • You will be able to see out the windows, and that’s the Big Deal. The experience is going to be about 500% more powerful than an IMAX movie from space. Five showings of IMAX will cost you around $ two hundred thousand less than one VSS Enterprise flight.

    • Your bragging rights will skyrocket. At first. Get in early. By the time ten flights of VSS Enterprise have occurred, the rest of the people who have done it at your favorite cocktail party will have grown, so you won’t be the only one in the room who did it. Now how well was your $ two hundred grand spent? You could have fed Rawanda for a week with that.

    • Paul Allen and Richard Branson want to GO into space. That’s why they’re willing to have you prove, over time, that VSS Enterprise is safe enough for them.

    • The flight is up, then down. Total time weightless: around 10 minutes. That’s $ twenty thousand per minute or $333.35 per second of weightlessness. You could adopt a whole lot of Haitian orphans for the price of one ride. The chances of your getting a Nobel Peace Prize after such a limousine liberal indulgence is virtually zero. Of course, it’s even less if you fly to the ISS for $ twenty million.

    • After the flight, you will be internally compelled to gush about how tremendously cool and wonderful the experience was. This is your karmic attempt to turn a largely dreadful climax into something it was not, in order to justify the cost, time, effort and gestalt of the experience to others. In other words, a rather nauseating, difficult, expensive ride will have to be portrayed as the greatest thing since roller coasters, or you will be perceived as a complete write off containing little human value. I predict.

    • The ship, its capabilities, the advancement it represents in the state of the art are all far greater than the passenger business model around which they are draped. Without the tremendous PR that this idea represents to Branson and Allen and Rutan, I doubt that the expense would justify the effort. In other words, building the capability was far and away a greater achievement than the repeat riding it.

  20. Uncle Patso says:

    Looks rather ungainly, but beautiful in flight, rather like a swan or goose (or flock of geese). I’m sure they have to be _very_ careful with the controls not to get any oscillation between the two sides, and not to torque the center too much if one side pitches up while the other pitches down. I suppose this is a mostly fly-by-wire craft — wonder how long _that_ software took to develop/debug…

  21. smartalix says:

    It must be rough to be so cynical, Buzz.


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