Virgin Galactic’s VSS Enterprise, named after Star Trek‘s USS Enterprise, successfully reached the stratosphere in a test flight.
The VSS Enterprise is carried by a mothership, the WhiteKnightTwo (VMS Eve) and on this test flight, remained attached to the VMS Eve.
“This is a momentous day for the Scaled and Virgin Teams,” said Burt Rutan, the mastermind behind Virgin Galactic’s engineering. “The captive carry flight signifies the start of what we believe will be extremely exciting and successful spaceship flight test program.” More tests will run through 2011. No date for a first flight has been set.
The VSS Enterprise is an eight-person vehicle; six passengers, and two crewmembers.
When tests are complete and the first flight launches, the VMS Eve will carry the VSS Enterprise to its launch altitude of 50,000 feet, to the edge of the atmosphere, and back again. The two-and-a-half hour trips, up and down flights that won’t orbit the earth, will include about five minutes of weightlessness.