he world's first private, manned spaceship — Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo — completed its first test flight on Sunday, a crucial step toward making commercial space tourism a reality. The craft, also known as the VSS Enterprise, has more tests to pass before it can carry its first paying passengers into suborbital flight. In this one, a mother ship carried SpaceShipTwo aloft and released it over the Mojave Desert, after which SpaceShipTwo glided down without firing the rocket that will propel it into space. (Watch Richard Branson discuss his innovation.) Here's a look at the numbers behind this feat of aerospace engineering:
Altitude SpaceShipTwo reached during this test flight
Altitude SpaceShipTwo will reach with space tourists before its rocket fires up
Speed SpaceShipTwo will attain under rocket power
Altitude SpaceShipTwo will reach with tourists on board — around 60 miles above the surface of the Earth
The cost of a ticket on SpaceShipTwo. A $20,000 deposit is required
Number of passengers who have already paid their deposits
Length of proposed SpaceShipTwo flights. Passengers will experience around five minutes of weightlessness
Number of passengers SpaceShipTwo will carry on each flight, along with two pilots
Number of SpaceShipTwo planes proposed for Virgin's fleet
Cost of the five commercial spaceships and launch vehicles
Length of the SpaceShipTwo
Length of the Space Shuttle Endeavour
Length of the testing process for SpaceShipTwo
The year in which Virgin hopes to begin commercial flights into space
Years from the publication of 2001: A Space Odyssey to the dawn of actual commercial spaceflight
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