The business of building rockets and penetrating space is no longer exclusively reserved to the likes of NASA and Russia. Private companies from SpaceX and Blue Origin are now among those revolutionising the space race. And Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is also tearing-up the rule books, after its SpaceShipTwo supersonic space plane successfully performed its second test flight – footage of which can be see here.
You can now ride along with Virgin Galactic as it touches the edge of space.
For an incredible new video showing Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo-class suborbital rocket VSS Unity is now available.
The footage opens with VSS Unity launching from its carrier aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo.
And with an awe-inspiring mountain range visible below, Unity lights opens-up its engines.
Almost instantly, the supersonic VSS Unity soars into a black sky, with the curve of the Earth visible beneath it.
Virgin Galactic VSS Unity achieved a peak altitude of 55.87 miles (89.9 km), topping the US Air Force’s definition of space.
This is the second time a Virgin Galactic spacecraft has surpassed that boundary.
VSS Unity is also seen slowly rolling against the ink-black backdrop of space, displaying black-outlined diagrams of several airplanes and space planes along its hull.
“Welcome to space,” one of the two pilots says.
And in addition to pilots Dave Mackay and Michael “Sooch” Masucci, a third Virgin Galactic staff member, Beth Moses, was on board – the first passenger ever carried.
“Welcome to the club, astronauts,” says one of the ground controllers.
Part of the flight’s purpose was to provide more data about how the human body adapts to space during SpaceShipTwo flights, and how passengers feel.
VSS Unity also carried four NASA payloads, used to studying data from dust particles’ effects, payload vibration and liquid/gas interactions.
Last week’s landmark Virgin Galactic mission actually achieved a maximum altitude some 4.4 miles (7 km higher) than its historic first flight in December 2018.
However, both spaceflights’ were short of the Karman Line of 62 miles (100 km), the distance recognised by the International Astronautical Federation as the beginning of space.
Hundreds of potential space tourists have already claimed a spot for suborbital flights aboard Virgin spacecraft, paying £188,000 ($250,000) apiece for the honour.
Virgin Galactic’s billionaire founder Richard Branson reportedly hopes to be one of the first on board SpaceShipTwo on July 16, 2019
This auspicious date is the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 launch carrying three NASA astronauts to the moon.