In late July, Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity test flight achieved an altitude of 52km and a speed of Mach 2.47, new records for the passenger space craft. Virgin test pilots Mark Stucky and Dave Mackay are profiled in a New Yorker interview this week.
In 2014, the Warren Centre hosted Virgin Galactic engineer Enrico Pallermo in the annual Innovation Lecture. An Australian mechanical engineer building carbon fibre spaceships in Mojave, Californa, Pallermo predicted the rapid rise of privately invested space enterprise.
Billionaire Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines, alongside Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Blue Origin and Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX, is among an elite group of wealthy entrepreneurs creating a whole new industry of private space transport.
Branson imagines that space will have a transcendent effect on travellers. “I believe that, once people have gone to space, they come back with renewed enthusiasm to try and tackle what is happening on this planet.” Virgin’s model embraces space tourism, and Branson speculates, “Before the end of the year I hope to be sitting in a Virgin Galactic spaceship, going to space.”
Image: Virgin Galactic/YouTube
This story is taken from the 24 August 2018 edition of The Warren Centre’s Prototype newsletter. Sign up for the Prototype here.