The VSS Enterprise was unveiled last December, and today flew for the first time out of Mojave Spaceport in California, as captured in the image above. "VSS Enterprise remained attached to its unique WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft, VMS Eve, for the duration of the 2 hours 54 minutes flight, achieving an altitude of 45,000ft (13716 metres)." Both crafts are developed for Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic by Burt Rutan and team at Mojave-based Scaled Composites.
The VSS Enterprise test flights will continue through 2011, progressing from "captive carry" (that's what today's experiment was), to "independent glide," and then fully powered flight, before commercial operations begin.
More photos (in glorious wide-o-vision!) from the dawn liftoff and flight are after the jump.
More about today's flight at VirginGalactic.com.
(Photos courtesy Mark Greenberg)
For amateur astronomers, tonight is an exciting night.
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