Nick Hill
Fabulous technology. Just a slight cautionary note. Once we thought that there was unlimited oil and happily burnt it until we now worry about no more oil. We have a finite atmosphere and sure a little bit can be wasted for joy flights to space, how many joy flights though?
Cees Timmerman
Nice, but nothing compared to the North American X-15.
Marcus Carr
Very cool.
Hi David, i read with pleasure your subjects but this time i felt the need to complement your text. Guess when talking about this project one mustn't avoid to mention Burt Rutan, it's enough to google it and you will find out what i'm talking about. Richard Branson and the Abu Dhabi cash are the booster stage that allowed the project to take off. Regards.
Martin Winlow
@ Cees Timmerman - The what? How many civilians have been up into space (or are planned to do so) in that, then? Comparing what Sir Dicky (Richard Branson) is trying to achieve with the X15 is completely daft. The X15 program cost millions (billions probably) of tax payers money and all it did was go jolly fast. VG is bringing 'affordable' space tourism for the masses and is funded totally privately.
Legendary equipment, designed and built by the legends of composite aircraft. You have to take your hat off to Burt Rutan. What a genius.
Simons Engineering
I completely agree with nulo's comment. Without Burt Rutan, everything about this endeavor is a non-starter. That doesn't take away from the involvement of Sir Richard, his money and his willingness to back Rutan's vision, but its still Burt Rutan's company and vision that makes White Night and Space Ship Two a reality. Not mentioning Burt Rutan in the article is like discussing the development of the Wright Flyer and not mentioning Wilbur Wright or Charlie Taylor. I think Orville would have issues with the omission much the same, I suspect, as Sir Richard would.
David Zaffery
@MartinWinlow - The X-15 was a research program that tested the aerodynamics of spaceplanes and the thermal effects of controlled re-entery. The research from the X-15 and the Lifting Body program are what was the foundation for the Space Shuttle design and engineering. Additionally, this tourist adventure is a suborbital flight that probably won't go above Mach-4, the thermal dynamics of re-entry would melt the skin of the VG spaceplane if it went above that speed; having dead tourists is bad for business. There's a lot more to engineering spacecraft that sending a few tourists into space for a minute or two. Respect the research that's paved the road for these types of ventures. When the private sector is able to create orbital vehicles that can safely launch and land, traveling at speeds of 17000 miles per hour, then that will be impressive! It takes billions to build orbital spacecraft that can operate safely, so treat spaceflight and programs like the X-15 with respect; I guarantee the men that built the VG spacecraft do!
Just think, they have almost achieved what the Concorde did 20+ years ago.
Cees Timmerman
I was referring to the misleading headline; it's only a record for the SpaceShipTwo, while still testing. I'm glad that SpaceShipOne flight 17P finally managed to beat the X-15 in altitude. Both of those only had one pilot and two 100+ km (current space threshold) peaks.