Sir Richard Branson has unveiled the rocket plane he will use to take fare-paying passengers into space.
SpaceShipTwo was presented to the world in Mojave, California.
The vehicle will undergo testing over the next 18 months before being allowed to take ticketed individuals on short-hop trips just above the atmosphere.
Billionaire Sir Richard, who heads the Virgin Group, intends to run the first flights out of New Mexico before extending operations around the globe.
Built from lightweight carbon composite materials and powered by a hybrid rocket motor, SS2 is based on the X-Prize-winning SpaceShipOne concept – a rocket plane that is lifted initially by a carrier vehicle before blasting skywards.
About 300 individuals are reported to have signed up for a flight. They are all willing to pay about $200,000 for the privilege of experiencing six minutes of weightlessness during what will be a two-hour end-to-end flight.
“It’s incredible to think only 450 people have ever been into space; that’s including all the Russians, all the Chinese and all the Americans put together,” Sir Richard told BBC News.
“We should be able to enable with our new commercial spaceship company, Virgin Galactic, to take maybe 1,000 people and make them into ‘astronauts’ in the 12 months once we start.”
This is something quite interesting, and I’m really looking forward for it to come true. I never got to experience any of the Concordes that ever flew by Malaysia in the 70s (before they were banned for good), so hopefully this time I get to feel that flying experience that only takes a few minutes to get from this country to another; minus the sonic boom they say.
CNN reports that the next generation of passenger air travel at speeds faster than sound may start as soon as 2015, with business jets leading the way, said Peter Coen, principal investigator for NASA’s supersonic fundamental aeronautics program. A small supersonic airliner capable of transporting 75 people might follow in 2025 and a larger one could arrive five years later, he added.
One of the biggest hurdles has been quieting the sonic boom, the window-rattling sound produced when a plane breaks the sound barrier. It led the United States and other countries (including Malaysia) to ban supersonic flight over land. The restrictions meant Concorde could mostly fly only over water routes, which limited its market potential.
But research is now focusing on “shaping the boom” — technology and airplane design that can soften the noise of a sonic boom to the point where it sounds more like distant thunder.
A bit of history for those who aren’t so aware of these planes:
It’s been 40 years since Concorde‘s maiden flight and nine years since one of the planes crashed in Paris, France, after takeoff, killing 113 people.
Air France and British Airways introduced the supersonic commercial service in 1976, but the disaster, combined with high maintenance costs and falling passenger numbers, led both airlines to retire the Concorde fleet in 2003.
And now, the stunning planes with their signature droop noses sit on display in museums, but the notion of commercial supersonic flight is far from shelved. Too bad.
If you asked of me, I would say yes; because I’m already missing it. Especially the environment of Bkt Beruang and various other stuffs. Well, I’m not here to rant about that, but instead I want to show you how Malacca is also equally appreciated by foreign media.
This article by UK’s Telegraph was released over 6 months ago, but as evergreen as Melaka is, the facts in the Article still stand firm.
One of the most interesting parts would include:
The city’s decline meant that the beautiful mixture of Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese and Islamic architecture is largely as it was 100 years ago; earlier this year it was made a Unesco World Heritage Site. In a country where so much is new, Malacca is one of the few places where you feel as if you can get a handle on Malaysian history.
… and probably this as well:
After our enforced sunbreak, we walked into busy Chinatown. The streets are almost entirely lined with traditional shophouses – a sort of tropical take on the London terrace – whose charming exteriors all have that faded, distressed look western interior designers try so hard to replicate. Many have been converted into stylish boutiques and cafés, while a fair number are much as they always have been. Their deep interiors and thick walls and beautiful tiled floors are exactly what you need in the city’s torrid climate. Interspersed with these were temples, mosques and the odd museum. It is, quite simply, a great place to wander – and there’s not much more you can ask of a neighbourhood.
Read more at Telegraph to get the feel of it.