Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Spaceship Two!

(image via NY Times)


" “2008 will really be the year of the spaceship,” said Sir Richard Branson, the British serial entrepreneur, at the heavily attended press conference at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. Sir Richard, who founded a company, Virgin Galactic, that promises to take tourists on brief trips to the edge of space, was there to show off the sleek pod of a spacecraft and its spidery carrier plane.

WhiteKnight, a two-fuselage, four-engine plane in its new incarnation, will ferry the smaller spacecraft high into the sky and release it. The spacecraft pilot then fires the craft’s rocket engine, which burns a combination of nitrous oxide and a rubber-based solid fuel, and shoots the vehicle upward to an altitude of more than 62 miles, the realm of black sky.

Once there, the pilot is to activate the craft’s innovative feathered wing, which rotates into a position that greatly increases aerodynamic drag and slows the craft for a glider landing back on earth."

Well done, Sir Richard. Truly a master of the media machine.

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