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Sahil Badani
Sahil Badani • Jan 5, 2016

Virgin Galactic: New SpaceShipTwo To Be Unveiled

At the Mojave Air and Space Port in California, Virgin Galactic will unveil the second of its SpaceShipTwo series on February 19th this year. If his health permits, famed scientist Stephen Hawking will attend the ceremony and even contribute in the christening of the ship.

The spaceflight company hopes for a revival, after a fatal accident on Oct 31, 2014 broke apart the Virgin SpaceShip during a powered test flight. The failure had occurred when the feather recovery system was prematurely activated, resulting in an immense pressure that caused the wings to deploy.

Virgin-Galactic-SpaceShipTwo

The suborbital spacecraft, together built by Galactic and its manufacturing subsidiary The Spaceship Company, will be revealed at the Final Assembly, Integration and Test Flight Hangar (FAITH). The new SST has undergone many modifications in its feather deployment system. Safeguards have been added to prevent the premature deploy of the tail blooms. The recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board, that investigated the earlier loss, have been incorporated.

As the Galactic’s ambitions grow in shape and size, other enterprises are also aiming to fly in suborbital space. Blue Origin, company of Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, has been carrying out tests so that it can ferry passengers to space; Elon Musk’s SpaceX has been doing the same, but on a larger scale. The space tourism industry now looks like a booming sector, and space tourism, a reality.

Even before the unveiling, 700 passengers have registered to fly at $250,000; but the major attraction here is Hawking. He has agreed to attend the invite-only ceremony, and his successful 2007 zero-gravity flight despite a chronic ALS makes matters better for Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic’s billionaire founder.

Source: collectSPACE

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