Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo flight to 83 km


I thought I would solicit the expertise of the TMRO Community to see if anyone could help me understand a space-related nugget that I do not understand (this is an honest question).

The recent 2018 December Virgin Galactic event of sending SpaceShipTwo to 83km altitude is a notable achievement. My question is: The piloted SpaceShipOne (from which it is cited the design of SpaceShipTwo is derived) reached +100km altitude three times 14 years ago in 2004. So why today does it seem like there is a lot of attention to this current achievement?

Either way, Virgin Galactic is exciting and well worth the TMRO spotlight, and I look forward to their next steps.


150 test flights
approved for passengers,
flying from mahave to new Mexico spaceport

William Pomerantz Virgin Galactic

George Whitesides CEO Virgin Galactic & Virgin Orbit Suborbital is just the first step


The main difference is size.
Spaceshipone is a 1 3 seater, but only lifted a pilot when it won the prize.
Spaceshiptwo is an 8 seater, and could hold a six person passenger compliment or a small payload.

Once the development campaign for Spaceshiptwo is done, they can finalize the design and produce additional copies. That will let them begin tourist flights which is how they are planning to make money.

note: the design changes between the images… there have even been some since these.

There is also a possibility that they can sell the ~3 minutes of continuous weightlessness, which is significantly longer than the weightlessness offered by parabolic flights. Research payloads or astronaut training flights could use this service.


Space Ship One was a 3-seater. Only one seat was occupied by a human, and the others were ballast. The 3 seats was a requirement of the X-prize.




Thanks for the correction duta. I must have been thrown off by the lack of actual seats behind the pilot. There certainly is room back there though it would be tight.

Also, here’s another side by side:


Many thanks to the repliers. And also thanks to Jade for displaying and discussing my question live on air. Now I understand!