Virgin Galactic

The First Ten Years

  • Erik Seedhouse

Part of the Springer Praxis Books book series (PRAXIS)

Also part of the Space Exploration book sub series (SPACEE)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xix
  2. Erik Seedhouse
    Pages 1-20
  3. Erik Seedhouse
    Pages 21-32
  4. Erik Seedhouse
    Pages 33-63
  5. Erik Seedhouse
    Pages 65-85
  6. Erik Seedhouse
    Pages 87-97
  7. Erik Seedhouse
    Pages 125-154
  8. Erik Seedhouse
    Pages 155-170
  9. Erik Seedhouse
    Pages 171-180
  10. Erik Seedhouse
    Pages 181-186
  11. Back Matter
    Pages 187-203

About this book


Thirty years ago when Sir Richard Branson called up Boeing and asked if they had a spare 747, few would have predicted the brash entrepreneur would so radically transform the placid business of air travel. But today, Branson flies airlines on six continents, employs hundreds of jets and, in 2014, was predicting that his spaceship company – Virgin Galactic – would soon open the space frontier to commercial astronauts, payload specialists, scientists and space tourists. With more than 600 seats sold at $250,000 each, what started off as a dream to send people just for the excitement to look back and marvel at Earth, was on the cusp of finally being turned into a business.

Then, on October 21, 2014, tragedy struck. SpaceShipTwo was on its most ambitious test flight to date. Seconds after firing its engine, Virgin Galactic’s spaceship was breaking through the sound barrier. In just the three seconds that it took for the vehicle to climb from Mach 0.94 to Mach 1.02, co-pilot Mike Alsbury made what many close to the event believe was a fatal mistake that led to his death and the disintegration of SpaceShipTwo. Miraculously, the pilot, Peter Siebold, survived the 16-km fall back to Earth.

Soon after the event Branson vowed to continue his space tourism venture. Already a second SpaceShipTwo is being built, and ticket-holders eagerly await the day when Virgin Galactic offers quick, routine and affordable access to the edge of space. This book explains the hurdles Virgin Galactic has had and still has to overcome en route to developing suborbital space travel as a profitable economic entity, and describes the missions that will be flown on board SpaceShipTwo Mk II, including high-altitude science studies, astronomy, life sciences, and microgravity physics.


Commercial Space Pilots Manned Spaceflight's Future Private Space Industry Richard Branson Space Tourism SpaceShipOne SpaceShipTwo Spaceflight Industry Markets Suborbital Reusable Vehicles Virgin Space Exploration WhiteKnightOne

Authors and affiliations

  • Erik Seedhouse
    • 1
  1. 1.Astronaut InstructorSandefjordNorway

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Physics and Astronomy
  • Print ISBN 978-3-319-09261-4
  • Online ISBN 978-3-319-09262-1
  • Buy this book on publisher's site