Virgin Galactic has announced that it may have flights for commercial passengers as early as 2013 (Wired).  The flights are priced at £100,000 (US$161,520.00 as of 2012), so the feasibility for general application may not be in the near future.  However, that the flights are even possible is a step toward a new method of travel, if not exploration and awe for future generations.  With this most recent of test flights, SpaceShip Two was able to complete the flight with tanks, valves and plumbing on board (rocket motor components were installed) as the craft was pulled into the sky by the carrier aircraft WhiteKnight Two (Wired).

 

 (Photo courtesy of Wired.Co.UK)

Once the craft is in full-operation, it will reach an altitude of about 15 kilometers (9.32 miles) while attached to a carrier aircraft.  Once it reaches this altitude, the rockets will fire up, thus propelling SpaceShip Two (or its successor) to 100 kilometers (62 miles) above the Earth’s surface.  At this altitude, passengers (6 on the current design of the craft) will experience weightlessness and be able to view the curvature of the Earth set against the dark backdrop of space (Wired).

 

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