The first powered flight of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo propelled the passenger spacecraft faster than the speed of sound in a milestone test flight over the high desert of southern California Monday morning. "The first powered flight of Virgin Spaceship Enterprise was without any doubt, our single most important flight test to date," said Virgin Galactic Founder Sir Richard Branson, who was in Mojave for the flight. "For the first time, we were able to prove the key components of the system, fully integrated and in flight." The autonomous flight of the spacecraft lasted about 10 minutes and ended with the vehicle gliding to a landing at Mojave.
The NASA/JPL Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity Project Team will receive the 2012 Robert J. Collier Trophy, the National Aeronautic Association announced on Tuesday. In choosing the project from a field of seven nominees, the committee cited the"extraordinary achievements of successfully landing Curiosity on Mars, advancing the nation's technological and engineering capabilities, and significantly improving humanity's understanding of ancient Martian habitable environments."