Report: Virgin Galactic Space Planes Could Replace Space Shuttle

This story comes via Fox News. The article talks about how Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic are already planning to develop orbital capabilities for a craft similar to Space Ship Two.

From the article:

While Virgin Galactic’s public sights are set on offering suborbital space tourist treks on its SpaceShipTwo passenger ships, the company is already quietly eyeing the next step: orbital space travel.

Virgin Galactic founder and president Sir Richard Branson publicly admitted the company’s orbital aims last month at the dedication of the Spaceport America facility under construction in New Mexico. But he and other Virgin execs are keeping mum on the details.

“Obviously, we want to move on to orbital after we’ve got suborbital under our belts, and maybe even before that,” Branson said.

In the last few weeks, Virgin Galactic and the Mojave, Calif.-based aerospace company Scaled Composites have flown several solo glide tests of SpaceShipTwo, most recently on Nov. 17, setting the stage for the first rocket-powered launch trials to follow. Scaled Composites built the first SpaceShipTwo for Virgin Galactic, as well as the spaceliner’s prize-winning predecessor SpaceShipOne.

But how Virgin Galactic plans to take the major step of reaching orbit — and when it plans to do so — remain to be seen.

It goes on to talk about the challenges they’ll face progressing from sub-orbital flights to full on orbital flights. Read the rest of this interesting article here.

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