Virgin Galactic’s VSS Enterprise Makes First ‘Captive Carry’ Flight
March 22, 2010 — Virgin Galactic announced Monday that its commercial manned spaceship, VSS Enterprise (SpaceShipTwo), successfully completed its first “captive carry” test flight on March 22, taking off at 7:05 a.m. (PDT) from Mojave Air and Spaceport, California, and remaining aloft for 2 hours, 54 minutes. VSS Enterprise remained attached to the WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft, VMS Eve, for the entire flight, achieving an altitude of 45,000 feet.
Both vehicles are being developed for Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, by Mojave-based Scaled Composites, whose founder, Burt Rutan commented: “This is a momentous day for the Scaled and Virgin Teams. The captive carry flight signifies the start of what we believe will be extremely exciting and successful spaceship flight test program.”
Sir Richard, Founder of Virgin Galactic added, “Seeing the finished spaceship in December was a major day for us but watching VSS Enterprise fly for the first time really brings home what beautiful, ground-breaking vehicles Burt and his team have developed for us. It comes as no surprise that the flight went so well; the Scaled team is uniquely qualified to bring this important and incredible dream to reality. Today was another major step along that road and a testament to U.S. engineering and innovation.”
Scaled developed SpaceShipOne which in 2004 claimed the $10 million Ansari X prize as the world’s first privately developed manned spacecraft. Virgin Galactic’s new vehicles are being built to carry six fare-paying passengers on sub-orbital space flights, with about $45 million in deposits paid from more than 330 people.
Virgin Galactic’s test flight program will continue through 2010 and 2011, progressing from captive carry to independent glide and then powered flight. For more information, visit www.virgingalactic.com.