Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A Spaceship For The Rest Of us

There's a preview of Virgin Galactic's new commercial space program over at CNN.com. Besides showing off the cool aesthetic, the article reveals some really interesting tidbits:
  • Test flights should begin late next year.
  • Spaceship 2's passenger seats will rotate to provide the best angle for absorbing the high-G ride.
  • The White Knight 2 mothership will have an identical cabin and will be used for passenger training flights (by that, I assume the mean "vomit comet" rides).
  • Flights will feature 5 minutes of weightlessness.
  • Virgin plans to offer lotteries and a reality TV show to provide access for those of us who can't afford the $200,000 price tag. (Woot!)
  • Virgin eventually hopes to develop the technology for orbital flight and 1-hour London-Sydney flights.

And on the subject of X-Prize technology (Spaceship 1 won the X-Prize for commercial spaceflight last year), there's a new X-Prize for genetic research. The Archon X-Prize will pay out $10,000,000 to the team that is the first to decode 100 human genomes in 10 days. Furthermore, the X-Prize foundation plans to announce two new prizes per year starting in 2007.

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