Mad billionaire and human muppet Richard Branson shot a missile into space—and he took a camera along. The video captured during the second supersonic test flight of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo (SS2) is squee!-level cool.
Virgin Galactic is the commercial spaceflight company created by future supervillain and current private island owner Branson, who launched a chain of record stores, Virgin Records, over 50 years ago, then moved into the airline business with the launch of Virgin Air. The Virgin Group currently owns more than 400 companies.
His latest goal is clearly to develop a space enterprise capable of seeding interstellar space with reggae death lasers.*
Another Virgin Galactic ship, the WhiteKnightTwo, a sort of tug or carrying vehicle, dropped the SS2 at 46,000 feet, at which point the two test pilots lit it up, taking it up to an elevation of 62,900 feet and hitting a max speed of Mach 1.43. The SS2 completed its entire flight profile and landed without incident.
Next year, plans are for the vehicle to ferry paying customers to the 360,000 foot level, right to the Kármán line at the edge of space, in a region of the atmosphere known as the exosphere.
Tickets will run $200,000 for each seat.
Virgin Galactic is not the only private space transport company to flourish in the wake of the National Atmospheric and Space Administration’s announcement that it would no longer make manned missions outside the atmosphere. Branson’s most notable competitor is real-life Iron Man Elon Musk, whose SpaceX has successfully resupplied the International Space Station.
* Branson has not actually confirmed his laser death plot.
H/T Discovery News | Photo by Virgin Galactic