Congrats to Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites for last night’s dramatic rollout of SpaceShipTwo in Mojave.
California governor Schwarzenegger was on hand to help christen the ship the VSS Enterprise
, and then some 800 spectators partied on—at least until high winds forced them to evacuate. MSNBC’s Alan Boyle described the scene
Tonight’s main event was a Virgin classic: Within minutes after the rollout, the tent was transformed into a lounge, complete with an ice bar, buffet and techno music on the public address system.
True to form, Scaled is keeping mum about the upcoming flight schedule, but based on SpaceShipOne‘s series of flight tests, Enterprise will likely go through captive carry flights (slung beneath mothership Eve), followed by unpowered drop tests before making powered flights that will lead up to a run to space.
Enterprise could send its first passengers to space as early as 2011. Three hundred passengers have already paid for the $200,000 suborbital flights, including London-based financier and adventurer Per Wimmer, who said in a press release yesterday,
Today’s unveil of SpaceShipTwo means that we are now seriously close to getting into space. No more fancy powerpoints; we now have a full scale spaceship and a mothership and I am sensing the smell of rocket fuel.
Virgin chief Richard Branson called on President Obama yesterday “to embrace private space travel,” according to Boyle. With NASA’s space shuttles set to retire soon and development of the Ares replacement ships in disarray, he may not have a choice. Here’s hoping he too smells the private space rocket fuel.