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Virgin Galactic goes supersonic at 71,000 feet

Ever the dreamer, Richard Branson continues to push forward on the idea of affordable space flight with another test of the amazing looking Virgin Galactic craft. This time we have video. KitGuru dons a fishing bowl for added effect.

From the time he was a scrawny teenager, watching Neil Armstrong landing on the moon, Richard Branson has dreamt about going into space.

In 1995, that dream moved a little closer, as Richard was building toward owning one of the biggest airlines around, he was also trying to break records for hot air ballooning. In Marrakesh, Morocco, he found himself in conversation with Buzz Aldrin while waiting for conditions to change for a balloon launch. It was during that chat that Richard began to visualise how a commercial space craft might work.

A year later and Dr Peter Diamandis picked up the $10m first prize for a private citizen creating a reusable spacecraft and in 1999, Virgin Galactic is formed at Companies House.

Now the Virgin Galactic craft, based on the SpaceShipTwo, is nearing the point where it will be ready to carry passengers, possibly inside the next 18 months.

This short video will fill in the blanks with some very cool shots from the craft itself as it goes supersonic and reaches 71,000 feet. This is sub-orbital and less than the heights reached by military aircraft, but still close to double the height at which a typical commercial jet achieves.

The craft has been designed to go another 40,000 feet higher, to a height of 110km or 68 miles, into the lower thermosphere. This weird part of space can see individual particles heated to as much as 2,500 centigrade, but there are so few particles, that the heat does not pose a threat. There are so fee particles, in fact, that sound does not work at this height.

Check out the flight for yourself:-

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwm3leZu-O0′]

KitGuru says: Safe to say that everyone at KitGuru will be jealous of the folks that make it into space with Virgin. What a dream, to see Earth from the heavens.

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