VSS Enterprise glides back towards Mojave Space Port on 10 October. (Picture: Mark Greenberg.)
VSS Enterprise glides back towards Mojave Space Port on 10 October. (Picture: Mark Greenberg.)

The spaceship was released from its mothership at an altitude of 45 000 ft (13 700 m). The two main goals of the flight were to carry out a clean release of the spaceship from its mothership, and for the pilots to free fly and glide back and land at Mojave Air and Space Port in California.

Preparations for the flight were extensive. The WhiteKnightTwo mothership (Eve) flew 40 times including 4 captive carry flights of spaceship and mothership joined together.

Both the spaceship and the mothership are constructed from carbon composite materials using technology developed by Scaled Composites of Mojave, California.

World's first commercial space line

Virgin Galactic wants to become the world’s first commercial space line. It currently has 370 customer deposits totalling US$50 million. Future commercial operations will be based at Spaceport America in New Mexico, where final preparations are taking place for a finished runway inauguration ceremony on 22 October 2010.

“To see the world’s first manned commercial spaceship landing on a runway is a sight I always dreamed I would behold," said George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic, who was present in Mojave to see the flight. "Now, our challenge going forward will be to complete our experimental programme, obtain our FAA licence and safely bring the system into service at Spaceport America, New Mexico.”