When Sir Richard Branson first started a 70-mile club for the rich and extremely adventurous, it felt to me like Pan Am all over again; an eccentric rich guy selling tickets to suborbital space, rather than the Moon. But now Branson's starry-eyed dream is beginning to look real.
On Monday, Branson's space venture -- Virgin Galactic (great name) -- unveiled WhiteKnightTwo, which will act as a carrier for SpaceShipTwo, a suborbital vessel built by Scaled Composites. This, by the way, is same group that led the design of SpaceShipOne, which won the $10 million Ansari X Prize in 2004.
Even more interesting: WhiteKnightTwo is a made entirely of composite materials, lightweight alternatives that perform like steel without the weight. Kevlar -- the stuff of bulletproof vests -- is the most common form of composite material. Ceradyne
What stirs my soul as a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers team is that, if successfully tested, WhiteKnightTwo will prove that composites are perfectly usable for building high-altitude aircraft. Imagine how that might transform the airline industry.
During the second quarter, UAL's
We investors tend to think of conglomerates when it comes to space. Firms like Lockheed Martin
Put differently: Your Big Bertha, and thereby, your investment in Callaway Golf, wouldn't mean much if it weren't for the space-shuttle material used to make it more pliable.
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Fool contributor Tim Beyers didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article at the time of publication. He hunts for tech's best as a contributor to Motley Fool Rule Breakers, which counts Orbital Sciences as a holding. Get a daily dose of his Foolish musings via this feed for your RSS reader.
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