Tuesday, 29 July 2008

The Independent on Sunday/ Bradt Travel-Writing Competition 2008 - Winner

And the Winner is...

...Kate Megeary for 'The Perfection of Improvisation'

Read Kate's winning writing at the Bradt site Read more!

Start saving up - Virgin Galactic Rolls Out Mothership 'Eve'

(click to enlarge image)
If there's one trip that I'd sacrifice all others to make, it's a trip into space: to the moon and back or perhaps a mere a circumnavigation of our planet Earth. And listening to Richard Branson as he stood beside his Mothership at Mojave Air and Spaceport in California, I'm convinced that it's worth shelving all future city break and beach plans to bank the cash for a £100,000 ticket.

Yesterday, 'Eve' - named after the tycoon's mother - was received, in all her twin-fuselaged glory, by invited VIPS and the media. Speaking to the BBC, Branson looked forward with characteristic, unfaltering belief to ten or twenty years ahead when day-trips to the dark side of the Moon and back will be available from a lunar-luxe hotel.

A statement from Virgin Galactic describes Eve's rollout as representing, 'another major milestone in Virgin Galactic’s quest to launch the world’s first private, environmentally benign, space access system for people, payload and science'. WhiteKnightTwo (Eve's official name) is both visually remarkable and represents ground-breaking aerospace technology. At 140 ft, the wing spar is the longest single carbon composite aviation component ever manufactured.

We all know that when Branson really puts his mind to something, he succeeds in the end. So start saving. I can't think of a better way to mark my 50th birthday than taking the ultimate journey into space.

More, in brief:

WK2, designed Burt Rutan, is a carrier aircraft that will ferry SpaceShipTwo and thousands of private astronauts, science packages and payload on the first stage of the Virgin Galactic sub-orbital space experience

WK2 has a maximum altitude of over 50,000 ft

It is expected to take its first flight in the fall of 2008

Powered by four Pratt and Whitney PW308A engine - powerful, economic and efficient - WK2 is a mold breaker in carbon efficiency

WK2 will be able to support up to four daily space flights

SpaceShipTwo, clearly visible but heavily shrouded during Eve's roll out is well on its way to completion and awaits its own roll out in 2009

The full Virgin Galactic website will be live to browse on 29th July 2008 Read more!