Space tourism one step closer with Virgin Galactic’s first manned flight

The VSS Enterprise, also known as SpaceShipTwo, has taken its first crewed flight. It stayed in the air for six hours attached to its mother ship, the VMS Eve. Two crew members stayed aboard and conducted systems tests. This is the latest aviation milestone in an active month that saw the first overnight flight by a solar airplane and the first unmanned solar plane to fly for a whole week.

This “captive carry” flight was the third for the ship. The first flight of the VSS Enterprise was only three months ago and it appears that the project is developing rapidly. Testing will continue into 2011 before commercial flights start. Tickets for the suborbital flight will be $200,000. Another space tourism company, Space Adventures, promises to offer flights for $102,000, although this won’t happen until 2012 at the earliest. While the VSS Enterprise will detach from VMS Eve and soar into suborbital space, the Space Adventures capsule will launch from a traditional rocket.