As Shuttle Era Ends, Private Commercial Spaceflight Begins

Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo with Burt Rutan and Richard Branson
Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo with Burt Rutan and Richard Branson

All will get taste of oasis for space: Desert launches will benefit KSC
Florida Today

Florida’s Space Coast will lament the end of the shuttle program and the loss of thousands of great jobs. But 2010 could mark the start of one of the most exciting periods in the history of human spaceflight. Gigantic leaps forward in our ability to fly people in space are coming, and they’re coming fast.

One of the most exciting is quietly marching toward history. Out west, in the deserts of California and New Mexico, work is progressing on a launch system, a spaceship and a spaceport for the international partnership that is the odds-on favorite to become the world’s first “spaceline” for tourists.

In the Mojave Desert, the loss of three lives in a test-firing accident slowed but did not stop the development of SpaceShipTwo for Virgin Galactic. The aircraft that will carry the spaceship to its “launch site” in the sky already has broken records in test flights. The football-shaped spacecraft could be rolled out for public viewing this fall and could make test flights soon after.

The British company says hundreds of people have made deposits on the $200,000 tickets for one of six seats aboard the spaceliner once test flights prove it is safe.

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