Virgin Galactic to Conduct Suborbital Flight in Late October After Long Hiatus

SpaceShipTwo Unity’s second powered flight.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Virgin Galactic plans to resume suborbital flight tests of SpaceShipTwo (SS2) VSS Unity in late October from Spaceport America in New Mexico after a 20-month long hiatus, according to a filing the company made with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

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George Whitesides to Fly on Early Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Flight from Spaceport America

Richard Branson (l) and George Whitesides (r, back) walk with SpaceShipTwo pilots David Mackay and Mark Stucky after a successful glide flight. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A provision in George Whitesides’ contract has Virgin Galactic’s chief space officer — and possibly his wife, Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides — flying on one of SpaceShipTwo’s early suborbital flights from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

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New Zealand lottery winner headed for space; Boxleitner wants price to come down first

A couple of brief items on the who’s going to space front:

An anonymous Auckland man who won a $5.2 million lottery prize plans to pluck down $200,000 for a suborbital Virgin Galactic flight, the Waikato Times reports. He was on a bike ride when he stopped for a drink and bought the winning lottery ticket on a whim.

“People have always told me that you can’t win these big prizes – but now I’m the lucky bugger this week”, he told the paper. “I also want to look at travelling in real style – by booking a trip into space. It would be great to one of the first Kiwis to make that trip.”

Meanwhile, Babylon 5 star Bruce Boxleitner says the price would have to come down first before he books a Virgin flight, PR-insider reports.

“I wish they’d hurry it along and make it cheaper. I’d love to do it, but it’s like $200,000 per person,” he said. “We should get a Screen Actors Guild ride going! I have a feeling it’ll be the Scream Actors Guild.”

Boxleitner is on the Board of Directors of the National Space Society, a non-profit space advocacy group with close ties to the British tourism company. The society’s Executive Director, George Whitesides, also works for Virgin Galactic; he and his wife Loretta will honeymoon aboard one of the suborbital flights. However, this apparently isn’t helping Boxleitner get a discount.