Virgin Christens First Commercial Passenger Spacecraft – VSS Enterprise

If you are hoping to catch a ride on the first private commercial passenger spacecraft, you will be riding on a spacecraft named ‘Enterprise’, more specifically Virgin Galactics VSS Enterprise, which was unveiled Monday night. More details below.


Go to space on board the Enterprise
After Burt Rutan’s Spaceship One won the X-Prize for being the first privately built re-usable spacecraft, Virgin Atlantic’s Richard Branson partnered with Rutan to form Virgin Galactic. Together they began work on Spacship Two, their first spacecraft to send tourists into suborbital spaceflights. That craft was unveiled tonight in a ceremony at the Mojave Air and Space Port. And the craft was christened as the VSS Enterprise, an homage to Star Trek and the other great ships to share the name.

Virgin’s Richard Branson at the christening of the VSS Enterprise (LA Times)

Branson hopes that the first flights with paying passengers will be in 2011, after more tests. The suborbital flights will only give you a few minutes in the weightlessness of space, and cost $200,000, which includes a complete training program. Virgin Galactic say they already have more than 300 early adopters signed up.

Of course this isn’t the first ‘first Enterprise’ spacecraft. In 1976, after lobbying from the fans, NASA named the first space shuttle as ‘Enterprise’. However, that craft never actually made into space, so Virgin Galactic’s Enterprise will be the first Enterprise to venture into the final frontier.  

Roddenberry and the Original Series cast with the Space Shuttle Enterprise


Here is video of the unveiling (thanks to Jakedweh)

Here is an AP report on the VSS Enterprise

And here is a video from Virgin Galactic which has more on their plan to take you to space.

For more on the launch go to Wired and the LA Times.


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December 8, 2009 1:32 am

Wow. That’s so cool.


KevinA Melbourne Australia
December 8, 2009 1:48 am

I wish I had $200grand!

December 8, 2009 1:59 am

Thrusters on Full !

December 8, 2009 3:20 am


I wonder how much extra demand they’ll get for seats purely from the name alone!

December 8, 2009 3:27 am

First ‘Enterprise’ in space…. can’t wait

4 8 15 16 23 42
December 8, 2009 3:36 am

I’m saving the $200,000 I don’t have for an actual orbital flight…. Seriously, if I had money to burn I’d get a seat on a Soyuz. But the truth is, I can’t wait until the VSS Enterprise starts taking people. It’ll be a vicarious thrill for me, and it’s definitely a step in the right direction. One of these days, we’ll get full commercial spaceflight, and that will be a benefit to humankind.

December 8, 2009 3:38 am

Should have called it the Botany Bay, rich super humans har har har

I will wait until they perfect this and when it is affordable for the every day person.

December 8, 2009 3:43 am

Since NASA was founded in 1958 it hardly could’ve sent only 400 people into space for 60 or 70 years…
Will someone please introduce Mr. Branson to the history of space flight…

The Wild Man of Borneo
December 8, 2009 3:49 am

Good stuff! The future begins!

December 8, 2009 4:04 am

They should have played Enterprising Young Men whiile they unveiled the ship, and have someone in the audience say, hey you gotta look at this look, it is unveiled and the score pumps up.

Pleasure Girl 1990
December 8, 2009 4:27 am

Rather than spending millions of Pounds on Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson should sort out his piss-poor excuse of a cable company, Virgin Media. Surely the most God-awful broadband provider in the UK….

December 8, 2009 5:29 am

I cannot believe the mixed reaction here — do we live in a world where someone unveiling a SPACE PLANE is mundane?? This is the stuff of science fiction and is long overdue. I look forward to seeing the spaceline progress as it triumphs over challenges and executes many successful flights to come.

December 8, 2009 5:39 am

All of those days spent moaning and whining “WHY WASN’T I BORN IN THE 60’S TO SEE STAR TREK?!”…..Now i understand, i have a goal to reach and hopefully well……go to the Final Frontier itself.

December 8, 2009 5:53 am

William Shatner actually refused a seat on the first flight until he has assurances he’d get down again.
Stephen Hawking however, has been doing everything he can to show he’d be able to take the stresses!

December 8, 2009 5:53 am

I guess I will be excited to see the day we can reach another planet/colony or play poker on the moon/mars, this is like holding the girls hands, I rather go all the way ;)

December 8, 2009 5:57 am

BTW where is the Shat in that NASA pic

Hat Rick
December 8, 2009 6:03 am

The two Enterprises look remarkably similar in the first two photos. Weird.

Weird — but WONDERFUL!

December 8, 2009 6:05 am


Shatner wasn’t there. This was during the (preTMP) period when he didn’t seem to want to be associated with Trek.

But oh!, the VSS Enterprise! If I could, I would!

December 8, 2009 6:18 am

Nimoy and Nichols look just like Quinto and Saldana in that pic!!!

December 8, 2009 6:26 am


OMG I was thinking the same thing, it’s so uncanny, funny how the space ships haven’t changed much, wish NASA would team up with Virgin to make a real titanic type ship in space minus the sinking.

December 8, 2009 6:36 am

Do you have to take out your appendix before going on-board?

Paul B.
December 8, 2009 6:45 am

8 – cinemadeus – December 8, 2009
Since NASA was founded in 1958 it hardly could’ve sent only 400 people into space for 60 or 70 years…
Will someone please introduce Mr. Branson to the history of space flight…
Um…unless you meant something different from what you typed, YOU are the one who needs the history lesson, cinemadeus.

As of November 2009, only 510 humans have flown in space. (Even Wikipedia knows this:

Also, the first American went into space in 1961, which means NASA has only been putting people in space for 48 years–hardly the “60 or 70 years” of your comment.

Instead of posting “corrections” of other people, you should check YOUR knowledge first. Maybe a good introduction to the history of spaceflight…

As for the VSS Enterprise:
I’m thrilled that we’re finally on the verge of a real commercial space industry! Branson isn’t quite as cool as D.D. Harriman, but he’s definitely living up to Heinlein’s hopes.

Maybe I’ll actually get a chance to fly in space–even just the edge–within my lifetime. Hard to believe…and so completely amazing!

December 8, 2009 6:52 am

18 –
Shatner was WORKING at the time. Check his creds and you’ll see he took every offer under the sun post-divorce, up through TMP. That’s why so many of us saw him in awful vocational movies in high school during the 70s (hello my name is william shatner – in this film I play american farmer … )

I’m wondering when Paramount will try to tell Virgin that Enterprise is a trademark and he can’t use it.

Hat Rick
December 8, 2009 6:52 am

Someone quick — name a starship after Richard Branson! :-)

December 8, 2009 7:03 am

I don’t really like virgin… most of the things that company does is resell stuff… like cellular air time on someone else’s network.

December 8, 2009 7:05 am

Yes pretty amazing, sorta like when humans built their first commercial boating vessel, as with anything, the rich and powerful will experience it first.

December 8, 2009 7:11 am


Or the first Subway in New York. A pnumatic tube that traveled 100 feet as a joy ride for the richest New Yorkers.

December 8, 2009 7:12 am

@23 – Enterprise is not a trademark. Neither is U. S. S. Enterprise. Regardless of whether Paramount puts a “TM” after the name or not. The CVN-65 U. S. S. Enterprise is, of course, a U. S. Naval vessel, and the Space Shuttle Enterprise is NASA’s test vehicle in storage at the Smithsonian. So it’s doubtful that Paramount could claim trademark status against the name itself.

If you use the name Enterprise in conjunction with the title Star Trek, or in grahpics on the model itself, then perhaps Paramount would have a claim. But they won’t sue Branson because he called his sub-orbital spaceplane the VSS Enterprise, unless they want some really bad publicity.

December 8, 2009 7:13 am

Oh, yeah, and Branson should have used the Little Nell artwork from the Starfleet Museum. Much cuter than what he’s got on there now.

Mr Mann
December 8, 2009 7:14 am

Ok they called it “Enterprise” – I have the sad feeling that the name of this ship has a different definition/connotation than the one intended by Rodenberry.

Enterprise as more of a business undertaking, rather than one of scope complication and risk.

For Branson he really is hoping this turns into an Enterprise.

December 8, 2009 7:24 am

#30 Why so sad? Roddenberry’s TMP included in the Rec Room, a wall of pictures of ships previous to the refit 1701 that were named Enterprise. In this Roddenberry-produced production included a “spaceliner Enterprise” that was a commercial passenger vessel.

And obviously Roddenberry made a few bucks off the name Enterprise.

w28 And even if they did sue him, he could always state in court as a British citizen, the HMS Enterprise/Enterprize predates any USS ship. :)

December 8, 2009 7:25 am

This is awesome could they establish like a space hotel up in space that would be so darn cool.

Aldo F. Rodriguez
December 8, 2009 7:36 am

The Human Adventure continues…

December 8, 2009 7:56 am

This will lead to the first Casino on the Moon/Mars, instead of going to Las Vegas or your typical tropical boat cruise, in the near future we can say, I’m going to book a flight on the Enterprise and check out the action on the moon/mars. Who will get the title to be the first human to be born in space/moon/mars?

December 8, 2009 7:57 am

There will be a new term, instead of the, “mile high club” we will have, “outer space club” ;) bow chicka WOW WOW

December 8, 2009 7:58 am

Finally… space!! :)

Chris M
December 8, 2009 8:00 am

OMG how awesome would it be to go into space in the Enterprise!!!!! :)

December 8, 2009 8:17 am

28 – Falcon: Re Space Shuttle Enterprise…

Actually it’s not in storage any more, it’s on display at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum Udvar Hazy complex near Dulles Airport. Quite amazing to see, although, strangely enough, when I stood right next to it, my first reaction was…it looks fake, like a prop.

Not sure if anyone else has had that reaction. I guess it was really cleaned up in the restoration process, and many parts of “real” space shuttles were never put on Enterprise since it was only a test vehicle.

Still, there it is. Go see it!

December 8, 2009 8:18 am

I actually almost gave up on this ever happening in my lifetime. I am so happy I get to see it. I was born when they landed on the moon, now I get to see civilians flying to space on board privately owned spacecraft. Another small step towards our great leap! So awesome.

December 8, 2009 8:22 am

When we finally achieve the ability to build a inter solar system craft, the humans would look back at this and lol like how we look at the first computer or game console. Beep Boop Beep Beep

December 8, 2009 8:42 am

this is great saw the doc about spaceship one and it was very interesting hope this works out for them

December 8, 2009 8:55 am

Bon Voyage and good luck VSS Enterprise – glad you have arrived!

oh really?
December 8, 2009 9:04 am

Sorry if I turn out to be the only negative nancy here, but isn’t anyone skeptical about this?

I won’t be surprised to see this fail miserably and kill a lot of greedy billionaires who bought their personal front row seat in space. I can see this going completely south since there is still so much we don’t understand about space travel and the galaxy we inhabit. It just sounds exactly like the first act of a sci fi/horror movie where a rich tycoon wants to make a quick buck off the unknown… and fails to anticipate the many things that could go wrong up there… especially for a bunch of civilians (rich civilians) who are not trained in flying a space craft. I would imagine there are many more risks than flying in an airplane. I can see this announcement as a pre-cursor to a great tragedy in 2011 when the first civilian astronauts encounter an unforeseen accident which leads to their unfortunate deaths.

December 8, 2009 9:09 am

The last video…. lens flares!!! haha!!
Played that last one with enterprising young men on another tab at the same time- same, awe inspiring effect on me!
Nice work Beardy! Engage! (Imagine picard saying that to riker!)

December 8, 2009 9:09 am


the world would not miss a these people too much and why should the rich not be the guinie pigs for this ( sorrie bout the spelling )

December 8, 2009 9:10 am

He can’t do that. There was no model of the VSS Enterprise on Picard’s shelves in the observation lounge, therefore it isn’t canon……. !

December 8, 2009 9:11 am

Last video? WTF?

My bad- the FIRST VIDEO!!!!

Stupid me.

December 8, 2009 9:42 am

Absolutely amazing.

December 8, 2009 10:06 am

To quote Simon Pegg’s Scotty, “I like this ship… it’s exciting!”

If private efforts like Branson’s finally get interest in spaceflight out of mothballs and back into the mainstream (as it was during the mid-’60s), I say more power to him!

To the folks at Virgin Galactic, “May the wind be at your backs!”

December 8, 2009 10:13 am

Private space flight should help with innovation, and this seems to have proven true.

Virgin Galactic: may the wind be on your backs !!!