The skies over Mojave, California’s Air and Space Port have seen significant suborbital traffic recently.
On March 20th, Masten Space Systems flew their automated Xombie craft to its highest altitude yet: 1,046 feet. That test hop above the desert landscape is a milestone-making flight in the Masten effort to create affordable access to the edge of space.
Two days later, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo was flown for the first time underneath its WhiteKnightTwo carrier plane for some three hours. That craft is designed to help shape a six passenger, two pilot suborbital spaceliner system for Virgin Galactic, an enterprise bankrolled by UK billionaire, Sir Richard Branson.
The SpaceShipTwo “captive carry” flight on March 22 signals the start of an aggressive series of shakeout flights of the passenger-carrying craft set to continue throughout the year.
John Gedmark, Executive Director of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation was quick to flag the significance of the two milestone test flights over the Mojave Desert as “another step on the path towards commercial suborbital flights to space.”