Today at 7:05am PST, Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo mothership left the ground from the Mojave Air and Spaceport carrying VSS Enterprise for the first 'captive-carry' test flight. The 2-part space vehicle launch system flew for 2 hours 54 minutes and reached an altitude of 45,000 feet. This is the first of many flight test hours that will be put on the system leading up to the first independent glides tests sometime later this year.
VSS Enterprise looking very much at home suspended under the mothership
Now that we're getting used to seeing the unique planform of the mothership, and especially now seeing the spaceship in place, the the whole package seems very logical and almost 'normal'. The test flight went extremely well and is bringing space tourism much closer to being a reality. Currently, Virgin Galactic has collected about $45 million in deposits from over 330 people wanting to experience space flight.
all photos: Mark Greenberg / Virgin Galactic