Virgin Galactic’s new spaceship

(CNN) – They suffered a devastating setback a few years ago, but Virgin Galactic is anxious to get back up in space.

The company unveils its new commercial spaceship to replace the one destroyed in a devastating accident in 2014.

“This is the vehicle that is going to take many hundreds of regular people into space for the first time,” said Chief Pilot Dave MacKay.

Richard Branson’s virgin galactic wants to be the world’s first commercial space line.  That is, the first company to take regular people into space, on a regular basis and this is the spaceship they say could do it.

“We’re really looking forward to getting it into the, into the air where it belongs, and then eventually into space,” Dave MacKay is Virgin Galactic’s chief pilot, he’s been training inside this simulator hundreds of times waiting for a real spacecraft to fly again, “After rollout we expect in the next couple of months to be in flight test and of course that’s hugely significant.”

That’s because Virgin Galactic has not had a vehicle since a tragic accident in 2014 left its spaceship in pieces, and killed one test pilot.  The NTSB ruled the cause of the accident to be human error.

SpaceShipTwo was already in development at the time of the crash, but not nearly ready to serve as a replacement.

“When we began this journey, we knew that it would be hard and it has been hard. The number one thing is that we’re going to test fly this vehicle. We’re going to test fly Spaceship 2 and we’re going to make sure we understand what happened,” said CEO and President George Whitesides.

Virgin galactic has made several updates to its new and improved spacecraft, but building the spaceship and adding those new features has taken time.  SpaceShipTwo, serial two has been under construction for more than three years.

This is how it works: The mothership, White Knight Two, carries the spaceship 50,000 feet into the air.

Then it separates and blasts off at more than three times the speed of sound, reaching between 50 and 62 miles above earth.  The six passengers onboard will experience about 6 minutes of weightlessness

More than 700 customers have already paid 250,000 dollars for a seat when Virgin Galactic eventually starts commercial operation.

Virgin isn’t the only company that has invested in civilian space-travel.  It is the only company focusing on space tourism.

Copyright CNN 2016

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