Virgin Galactic Brings Space Tourism Even Closer

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    NEWSLETTERS

    This could be your ticket to space.

    Just think: in your lifetime, you may be able to pay a visit to space without having to be a NASA-trained astronaut. Admittedly, you may have to be a little rich.

    Our best hope for busting open the frontier of space tourism took to the skies from the Mojave Air and Space Port for the first time on Monday, as the Enterprise, carried 45,000 feet over the Mojave Desert by Eve, completed its first maiden voyage. The Enterprise is Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo spaceliner, which will be able to carry six lucky passengers and two pilots into suborbital space. It's launched by its WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft, Eve — the two outside fuselages joined at the wing you see flanking the Enterprise above — which completed its own maiden voyage back in December of '08.

    To secure your own ticket to ride you'll need to plunk down a cool $200,000, a sum that Virgin Galactic reports over 330 customers have already paid. Test flights for the pair will continue into 2011 as the Enterprise and Eve increase their operation height and range, before finally testing out a drop-test where the Enterprise fires the hybrid rocket booster that will one day take it into suborbital space.

    We just hope the photography of that momentous event is as beautiful as it was for this. Check out more breathtaking views of the Enterprise in the gallery below.

    Space.com, via Fast Company