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Virgin Galactic SpaceShip Two Makes Third (And Highest) Test Flight

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Virgin GalacticThe Virgin Galactic doubters are eating their words after their soon-to-be low-Earth orbit spaceship made its third successful test flight on Friday. Each test flight has reached higher altitudes, with Friday’s flight making it 71,000 feet above the Mojave Desert.

Virgin Galactic’s White Knight Two airplane carried the six-passenger spaceship between its hulls to just over 45,000 feet and then released it, leaving the spaceship to use its impressive rocket motor to keep on soaring. The rocket burn lasted 20 seconds, achieving Mach 1.4. That part of the flight lasted 10 minutes, and the two pilots had landed the plane safely in the desert within an hour. Chief pilot David Mackay said that the craft “flew brilliantly.” Virgin Galactic happily tweeted the news, along with some pretty awesome photos.

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Lady Gaga Set To Perform In Space In 2015

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Lady GagaWe probably shouldn’t be too surprised by this. If there were any performer ready to sing in space, it would have to be Lady Gaga. Assuming that everything goes according to plan, she’ll become the first musician to perform in space in early 2015. Well, besides Chris Hadfield that is.

Gaga first hinted at the news on Twitter, where she teased fans with rumors about her upcoming performance:

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NBC’s Space Race Will Give Winners A Ride Aboard Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo

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SpaceShipTwoTimes sure have changed. Remember when reality shows were about a bunch of wacky people picked to live together in a house where they could hook up and fight to their hearts’ content? Not anymore. Reality television is now poised to tackle the final frontier, and it’s hard to know whether this is ridiculous, kind of awesome, or simply inevitable. Or maybe all three.

NBC recently announced that, at some yet to be disclosed time, it will air Space Race, a show conceived by Survivor producer/creator and reality show guru Mark Burnett and Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson.

While details about the rules and structure of the show haven’t been released, the basic premise is that “ordinary” people (as opposed to the incredibly rich people who can afford to buy seats at $250,000 a pop on Virgin Galactic’s commercial spaceflights) will compete to win a ride to space aboard Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo. SpaceShipTwo is about 60 feet long, with a 90-inch-diameter cabin that has room for six passengers and two pilots (no word yet on whether the winner gets to bring a companion on the trip). Best of all, each passenger gets a window seat — two windows, actually, given that this is no airplane.

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Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Provides A Helluva View From Its Latest Rocket-Powered Test Flight

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It seems like we’ve been talking about “space tourism” for ages now. One of the oldest players in the game is Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic…but they still haven’t taken up any of their long list of paying customers, which includes Stephen Hawking, Tom Hanks, Katy Perry, and Brad Pitt. They’re anticipating being able to begin commercial flights of SpaceShipTwo sometime in 2014. I’m guessing few of us reading these words have the disposable cash to book a flight — $250,000 for a ticket — so the above video, taken during one of SpaceShipTwo’s test flights, will either make you marvel at human ingenuity and the beauty of our homeworld…or just really jealous.

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Mark Burnett Is Taking Reality TV Into Space With Virgin Galactic

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virgin galacticThe world of reality TV has absolutely branched out from its initial incarnation of suburban life occasionally resembling reality. Once The Real World became Big Brother and Survivor, there was nowhere to go but “really far out there” for TV producers. On the opposite end of the oddity spectrum from Lifetime’s I Killed My BFF, however, is reality show mastermind Mark Burnett, who is reportedly shopping around a pitch that would pit a bunch of people against each other to win a chance to fly into space aboard Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo. As much as I’d like to wave a dismissive hand and make a noise resembling a sigh, I’ve kind of wanted to see a space-related reality show for years now, ever since Burnett first starting promoting the idea over a decade ago. The biggest question is, will it ever happen?

Studio insiders say that several networks already have their wallets out and a small bidding war has begun over the project. Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson, the most fun-loving billionaire I can think of, is planning on taking the first Virgin Galactic flight with his family on December 25 of this year. Should the series come to fruition, it would air after that first flight, and contestants would go through rounds of challenges and whatnot in order to secure a seat on the second flight, which is planned for later next year.

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Justin Bieber Is Going To Space

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biebs
I apologize to those of you who may have experienced heart palpitations while reading the headline, due to either extreme excitement that this talent-lacking pop phenom would possibly be out of our lives forever, or in jealousy that the 19-year-old Biebs can afford to do such amazing things purely by leaking out audible heinousness. We here at Giant Freakin’ Robot know exactly how you feel.

Bieber and his manager, Scooter Braun, are joining the 530+ other paying volunteers (including that other eternal annoyance Ashton Kutcher) who will take an eventual ride in Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShip Two whenever the test launching phase is complete. It’s been successful thus far, and Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson is optimistic that flights could begin before the year is out.

Branson himself shared the news via Twitter, saying “Great to hear @justinbieber & @scooterbraun are latest @virgingalactic future astronauts. Congrats, see you up there!” One has to wonder what a guy like Branson even thinks of pop music nowadays.

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