The successful powered flight of SpaceShipTwo in the Mojave Desert on April 29, 2013 was a major milestone for Virgin Galactic – and I had the incredible opportunity not only to witness, but document history in the making as a photographer for Virgin Galactic.
Tasked with photographing the reactions of employees and VIPs, it took all my willpower to focus on the onlookers as SpaceShipTwo rocketed away above.
Burt Rutan, designer of SpaceShipOne (which won the Ansari X-Prize in 2004), the design upon which SpaceShipTwo is based, takes some pictures during the flight test while X-Prize founder and chairman Peter Diamandis looks on.
Employees and VIPs watch the historic first powered flight of SpaceShipTwo over California’s Mojave Desert.
The family of Virgin Galactic Chief Pilot Dave Mackay watches the historic first powered flight of SpaceShipTwo.
Burt Rutan watching the flight test.
Dave Clark, Director of Astronaut Relations at Virgin Galactic (as well as boyfriend to Princess Beatrice), reacts as SpaceShipTwo ignites its engine.
Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides along with other VIPs and employees watching the first powered flight of SpaceShipTwo over the Mojave Desert.
Richard Branson and Scaled Composites engineer Jason DiVenere celebrate the safe landing of SpaceShipTwo with a chest bump. Scaled Composites is the company which has built and is testing both SpaceShipTwo and its carrier aircraft WhiteKnightTwo.
Pilot Mike Alsbury relaxing after a successful flight.
Photographer Chris Fischer with Richard Branson at the Mojave Air and Space Port following the successful first powered flight of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo.
Here are a few good articles if you’re interested in learning more about Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo’s first powered flight:
- Behind the Scenes of SpaceShipTwo’s First Powered Flight (Wired)
- Branson’s Thunderbird is go! Virgin spaceship makes its first powered flight (Daily Mail)
- Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Makes History with 1st Rocket-Powered Flight (Space.com)
For up-to-date news about the progress of SpaceShipTwo, keep an eye on the Virgin Galactic website.