I find Jonathan McDowell’s paper convincing, and I’ve always loved the X-15, so in the spirit of consistency, yes, SpaceShipTwo reached space today on its flight to 82.7 kilometers.
It was, unquestionably, a huge day for Virgin Galactic, a company that I’m not the biggest fan of, to say the least. I think their SpaceShipTwo architecture is a dead-end beyond flights like this, I find their engine choice questionable at best, and I have many issues with their PR.
But, damn, it’s really hard to talk shit on this view.
The one thing I’m left wondering after today is how the vehicle will do with a full load—passengers, seats, and all. It seems like they have some margin left on the engine burn duration, so with all that considered, is the 80 kilometer range their realistic target for customer flights?