Press Release

NASA Facility Serves as Launch Site for Record-Setting Flight

By SpaceRef Editor
December 17, 2005
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NASA Facility Serves as Launch Site for Record-Setting Flight

NASA announced Friday the agency’s Kennedy Space Center, Fla., will be the takeoff site for an attempt to set the record for the longest flight of an aircraft or balloon.

NASA and Virgin Atlantic Airways’ agreement to use Kennedy’s Space Shuttle Landing Facility is the result of a pilot program to expand access to the shuttle’s runway for non-NASA activities.

An exact takeoff date for Virgin Atlantic’s GlobalFlyer aircraft has not been determined and is contingent on weather. The flight is expected to take place in February. Steve Fossett will attempt to fly solo around the world, non-stop without refueling, in the aircraft designed by Burt Rutan. It is scheduled to arrive at Kennedy for preflight preparations on Jan. 6, 2006.

“We’re thrilled that Steve Fossett and Virgin Atlantic selected the Shuttle Landing Facility as the take-off point for this world record attempt,” said Kennedy Space Center Director Jim Kennedy. “The project will further enhance our efforts to expand the facility’s use.”

The GlobalFlyer, built by Scaled Composites, Inc., is a single pilot, ultra light aircraft designed for non-stop global circumnavigation. The plane will fly mostly at 45,000 feet at speeds faster than 285 mph.

“Launching from the Kennedy Space Center at NASA will give both pilot and aircraft the ultimate launch pad for this ultimate flight,” said Sir Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Atlantic Airways. “We’re excited to be able to partner with NASA on this attempt, as it is a perfect combination of innovation and aspiration.”

To attend the launch, permanently badged media must contact Kennedy’s Press Site at: (321) 867-2468 no later than 3 p.m. EST, Jan 4. Media without Kennedy credentials should submit requests via the accreditation Web site. International media accreditation requests must be submitted by 4 p.m. EST, Dec. 22 through the Web at:

For information about the GlobalFlyer record attempt on the Web, visit:

For more information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.