Virgin Galactic takes flight

Posted by Mike Luttrell

"Now boarding Virgin Galactic flight 1 with nonstop service to outer space"

Virgin Galactic's maiden voyage, a test flight, was put into the history books today as the VSS Enterprise launched into the air above the Mojave Desert in a nearly three-hour flight.

The Enterprise, Virgin Galactic's exclusive spacecraft, was created by Scaled Composites' Burt Rutan. Rutan was also the man who built the first privately-funded aircraft to go into outer space twice in the same week.

More than 330 individuals have already pre-booked a flight on Virgin Galactic, which will be the first to offer passenger service to suborbital space. The Virgin spin-off has earned more than $45 million from this alone. A ride on the Enterprise costs $200,000.

Richard Branson, the famed daredevil businessman who is pretty much the only guy who could dream up a company like this, said in a statement, "Watching VSS Enterprise fly for the first time really brings home what beautiful, ground-breaking vehicles Burt and his team have developed for us."

The beginning of commercial operations is still on schedule for 2012. Flights then may take off in New Mexico, where the world's first spaceport is already being constructed.