Virgin Galactic is set to resume its rocket powered test flights, bringing consumer level space travel closer to reality after remaining fairly inactive throughout 2014. This means that passengers who made a $250,000 reservation to fly into space on a Virgin Galactic flight may not be left waiting too much longer.
The most recent test flight took place on the 2nd of January of this year so quite some time has passed. In May, Virgin announced that it was changing the solid fuel used in the rocket motor due to engine instabilities. The space ships now use thermoplastic polyamide, which performs better and should allow the spaceship to achieve a higher altitude.
Speaking with Space.com, Virgin Galactic CEO, George Whitesides, said: “We’ve done a lot of development tests over the years, but what we’ve been doing recently are qualification tests where you’re firing the same motor design multiple times to make sure you’re seeing the same thing every time. So now we feel ready to put that motor on the spaceship.”
SpaceShipTwo is designed to carry to pilots and six passengers. The ship is now qualified to increase stability from a suborbital flight by rotating its tail and wings. The ship has completed 54 test flights to date but none of these were ran with the new fuel, which has only been tested on the ground so far.
So far, more than 700 people have booked a flight with Virgin Galactic, many of these people are celebrities, which is to be expected considering the high reservation price.
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KitGuru Says: It’s good to see virgin making headway when it comes to consumer level space travel. However, it’s probably going to be a long time before regular people can afford a trip in to space. Would any of you guys take a Virgin Galactic flight in to space?