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FAA Launch Permit Gives Virgin Galactic’s Space Vehicles the Green Light for Powered Flight | Virgin Galactic

Stashed in: The Universe, Flying!, Brad Pitt!, Awesome, Transportation!, @richardbranson, @katyperry, U2, @tomhanks, Space!, Angelina Jolie

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Wonder if this thing gets higher than a U2 spy plane.


Most commercial passenger jets achieve ideal cruising altitudes between 30,000 feet (9,144 meters) and 40,000 feet (12,192 meters), or about 5.6 miles (9 kilometers) to about 7.6 miles (12.2 kilometers), depending on weather, location, flight plan and other factors [source: Boeing]. Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo is more adventurous, reaching a cruising altitude of approximately 68 miles (110 kilometers) above the surface of the Earth -- that's 359,040 feet, or roughly 12.3 times the height of the summit of Mount Everest. This bit of high flying will place the spaceship 6.2 miles (10 kilometers miles) above the Karman line, the widely accepted boundary between the atmosphere and space.

[Read more.]

As of May 2012, there are around 550 ticket-holders in line to fly with Virgin Galactic.

Notable passengers that have already submitted their deposit include Stephen Hawking, Tom Hanks, Ashton Kutcher, Katy Perry, Prince Zulf Ali, Brad Pitt, and Angelina Jolie. ($200,000 per person with a $20,000 deposit)

[Source: Wikipedia.]

I'm guessing Virgin Space Vehicles go no higher than U2 planes, because of this Slashdot thread:

"If you had a semi-orbital trajectory from say the Cook Islands (in the Pacific) and landing in the UK would the FAA still have to give you clearance?"

Technically you dont, thats why you can fly U2 spy planes over another country without violating their airspace, and all the political fallout that would result.

On the other hand, I found another thread that seems to indicate that Virgin Space Vehicles will go higher than U2's:

I think everybody should get the chance to see it just once, it would be amazing. Reminds me of the documentary with James May in the U2 plane. Although Virgin will be going a bit higher and you can experience the weightlessness.

[Read more.]

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