Virgin Galactic Second Successful Test Flight

Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic


MECHANISM IN SECOND supersonic flight

Company Demonstrates All Technical Mission Phases in Single Flight for the First Time,

Confirms On Track to Commence Commercial Service in 2014

MOJAVE, Calif. – Today, Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s aabar Investments PJS, successfully completed the second rocket-powered, supersonic flight of its passenger carrying reusable space vehicle, SpaceShipTwo (SS2). In addition to achieving the highest altitude and greatest speed to date, the test flight demonstrated the vehicle’s full technical mission profile in a single flight for the first time, including a high altitude deployment of the unique wing “feathering” re-entry mechanism. All of the test objectives were successfully completed.

At approximately 8 a.m. local time from the Mojave Air and Space Port, the company’s WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) carrier aircraft took off carrying SS2 to an altitude of 46,000 feet. Virgin Galactic Chief Pilot Dave Mackay was at the WK2 controls, assisted by Scaled Composites (Scaled) co-pilot Mike Alsbury and The Spaceship Company Flight Test Engineer Scott Glaser. Upon release from WK2, SS2 pilots Mark Stucky and Clint Nichols, both of Scaled, ignited the rocket motor for the planned 20-second burn propelling the spaceship to 69,000 feet. During this time, SS2 achieved a maximum speed of Mach 1.43. SS2 landed in Mojave at 9:25 a.m. local time completing the flight test with the pilots reporting a flawless flight.

Chairman of aabar Investments PJS, H.E. Khadem Al Qubaisi, commented: “This flight milestone represents a key step forward for the Virgin Galactic team.  The successful completion of all major aspects of the flight mission demonstrates that we are very close to achieving one of Galactic’s key goals: commercialising access to space for the broader public.  I would like to congratulate the whole team on their continued success.”

“We couldn’t be more delighted to have another major supersonic milestone under our belts as we move toward a 2014 start of commercial service,” said Virgin Galactic Founder Sir Richard Branson. “It was particularly thrilling to see for the first time today the whole elegant system in action during a single flight, including the remarkable feathering re-entry system. It was this safety feature more than anything else that originally persuaded us that the overall design of the system was uniquely fit for purpose. Everything we have seen today just confirms that view. Congratulations to all involved!”

“Today, we expanded the SpaceShipTwo rocket-powered flight test envelope with a longer burn duration and robust testing of the feather mechanism, supersonic aerodynamics and wing lift structure,” said Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides. “Each powered flight of SpaceShipTwo yields cumulative progress that builds the foundation for safe and exciting commercial space flights.”

For a downloadable press release, images and video, please visit

 Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company will host a career fair in Mojave, Calif., on Saturday, Sept. 7 from 8 – 11 a.m. PST with a virtual career fair taking place from 9 – 10 a.m. PST at More than 100 open positions are available with specific career details posted at and

About Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic, owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and aabar Investments PJS, is on track to be the world’s first commercial spaceline. To date, the company has accepted nearly $80 million in deposits from approximately 630 individuals, which is approximately 10% more than the total number of people who have ever gone to space. The new spaceship (SpaceShipTwo, VSS Enterprise) and carrier craft (WhiteKnightTwo, VMS Eve) have both been developed for Virgin Galactic’s vehicle fleet by Mojave-based Scaled Composites. Founded by Burt Rutan, Scaled developed SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 claimed the $10 million Ansari X Prize as the world’s first privately developed manned spacecraft. Virgin Galactic’s new vehicles, which will be manufactured by The Spaceship Company in Mojave, Calif., share much of the same basic design, but are being built to carry six customers, or the equivalent scientific research payload, on suborbital space flights. The vehicles will allow an out-of-the-seat, zero-gravity experience with astounding views of the planet from the black sky of space for tourist astronauts and a unique microgravity platform for researchers. The VSS Enterprise and VMS Eve test flight program is well under way, leading to Virgin Galactic commercial operations, which will be based at Spaceport America in New Mexico.

About aabar Investments PJS

Headquartered in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, aabar Investments PJS (aabar) invests in various sectors including infrastructure, aviation, real estate, automotive, commodities, energy and financial services. International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) acquired a stake in aabar in 2008 and has progressively increased its stake to over 95% since then. Following IPIC’s initial investment, aabar has made numerous investments including stakes in Falcon Private Bank Ltd., UniCredit S.p.A., RHB Bank Malaysia, Galactic Ventures LLC (Virgin Galactic), XOJET Inc., Glencore Xstrata plc., Arabtec Construction PJSC and a portfolio of real estate projects.  IPIC, established in 1984 and wholly owned by the Government of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, invests globally in energy and energy related sectors and undertakes strategic projects on behalf of the Government of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  IPIC’s portfolio currently consists of over 15 investments throughout the hydrocarbon value chain spanning five continents.  Specific investments include: Compañía Española de Petróleos (CEPSA), NOVA Chemicals Corporation (NOVA), Borealis AG (Borealis) aabar.

Rudi Steele Travel Has Moved!

Effective July 15th 2013 our new address is:

  • 7001 Preston Road Suite 210
  • Dallas, TX 75205

Telephone, email and website addresses all remain the same.

Why are we moving after 25 years in highland Park Village?

Our building is being converted into a hotel.

(Ironic isn’t it?!)

Update: Our old building will not be converted into a hotel after all. Ah well… we like our new place anyway!

Scotland Gleneagles The Ryder Cup 2014

The Gleneagles Hotel

If you’ve always dreamed about a gut wrenching golf trip to Scotland, join us for The 2014 Ryder Cup.
24-29 September 2014 | Hosted at the Gleneagles Hotel

PerryGolf trips to Scotland rarely lack for excitement but this one stands alone. If you like your professional golf played at the highest level, by 24 of the most accomplished players in the game, who are giving it their all to withstand the most intense pressure imaginable, join us for The 2014 Ryder Cup hosted at the Gleneagles Hotel.

The 2014 Ryder CupEach of our three packages offer luxury accommodation in St Andrews for five nights at the five-star Fairmont St Andrews Golf & Spa Resort. Our lead package includes every day attendance beginning with the Opening Ceremonies, golf at Kingsbarns, complimentary golf at the Fairmont’s Kittocks Course, five nights’ accommodation, shuttle service to Gleneagles and more. A limited number of “split attendance” packages are available for those who wish to share their time at the Ryder Cup with additional golf and sightseeing.

Pre-event golf packages are offered featuring Turnberry and the Highlands along with the St Andrews golf package highlighted by play on the fabled Old Course.

Contact Dan Brantley for details

Boeing’s New 787 Really Is A Dreamliner

Dan Dixon, Arlene Thompson-Brantley & Dan Brantley with Boeing's new 787

Dan Dixon, Arlene Thompson-Brantley & Dan Brantley with Boeing's new 787

We were fortunate to be invited by American Airlines to view Boeing‘s new 787 at DFW International Airport. With it’s swooping blue design the plane looks like a sleek, airborne dolphin. However Boeing has spared nothing when it comes to  high-tech touches like electro-translucent windows that dim with the touch of a button, no old fashioned shades for this plane. Seat back entertainment centers for the entire plane are a nice touch and brings the 787 in line with what Airbus has offered on it’s products for awhile. First Class is over the top, as is the norm these days, with what amounts to little roomettes for each passenger,  with enough room to invite someone over for drinks. Alas, the full-flat reclining seat, unlike Singapore Airlines, only slept one. Maybe the 797 will have “First Class for Tw!o”

London – The Goring Hotel

Rebecca Slater Arlene Thompson-Brantley David Morgan-Hewitt

Rebecca Slater, Arlene Thompson-Brantley and David Morgan-Hewitt

We were pleased to have David Morgan-Hewitt, the Managing Director of The Goring Hotel in London, stop by the office last week. He was accompanied by Rebecca Slater, owner of Rebecca Recommends, who represents The Goring. 

There have been many upgrades to the hotel in recent months, Rudi Steele has been recommending The Goring to clients for some time, even before it hosted the Middleton family for the Royal Wedding last year! or as Arlene Thompson-Brantley puts it, “The Goring has always been a wonderful property in London, and now it is a famous property as well.”

The Goring is regarded the favourite address for anyone looking for the quintessentially  English hotel in the heart of London.

With just 69 rooms and suites The Goring is truly a “Baby Grand”, the finest of hotels in the perfect location but with the most intimate of atmospheres and personalised attention.

China Redux

Margery Hunter

Margery Hunter

I’ve been to China before, and many of my clients have been, but this time was very different.   Every day brought an unusual experience that most travelers don’t get.

Everyone goes to the Great Wall, but our visit was to a section of the wall where few others go and where a lovely champagne lunch awaited in one of the guard towers.

Everyone know s the story of the Terra Cotta Warriors, at Xi’an -  that the  Emperor thought he would need an army to go on fighting in the afterlife and had thousands of soldiers made out of clay.  What they don’t know is that he also worried about needing workers to support his clay army.   Everything and everyone he might need was made out of clay – cooks, maids,  shepherds,  goats, cows –even children –and buried so they would be ready when he woke up in the next world.   There they lay for 2,200 years.  Visitors walk down a long ramp back into history, and in the dim light of the great pits will see the Emperor’s court of clay.

Visitors go to Guilin to see the weird landscape of limestone mountains which rise from the valley floor.  They float the lovely Li River on bamboo rafts as it winds through fantastic landscape.   For us, though, at the end of the day, a superb dinner was given in a cave inside one of the great mountains.