The New Pioneers: Vir­gin Galac­tic

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

Wed­nes­day, 7.30pm, Na­tional Ge­o­graphic Richard Bran­son and his team may be fur­ther along than we think in the race to get com­mer­cial space travel off the ground. They are al­ready look­ing be­yond short hops to space hol­i­days in or­bit­ing re­sorts. The jour­ney hasn’t been easy, and this grip­ping doc­u­men­tary, which moves with the pace of a thriller, out­lines events so far, in­clud­ing a rocket test on the ground that killed three work­ers in July 2007. The team has been work­ing on the prin­ci­ple that far less power is needed to launch a space­ship from the edge of the at­mos­phere than from the ground, and the first stage was to de­sign and test the sin­gle-wing moth­er­ship that would hold the five-seater space­craft. You get a front-row seat as what looks like two planes stuck to­gether has its maiden flight and land­ing. Trust me, it’s tense. Then there’s the test flight with the space ve­hi­cle. Great land­ing, but no space flight yet.

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