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Virgin Galactic flies second SpaceShipTwo test at New Mexico spaceport, clearing the way for powered spaceflight

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Virgin Galactic flies second SpaceShipTwo test at New Mexico spaceport, clearing the way for powered spaceflight

Virgin Galactic has handed a key milestone in its SpaceShipTwo qualification program. The firm carried out a glide flight, which implies that it was flying its VSS Unity spacecraft unpowered in glide configuration, after its launch from its provider plane, a modified Boeing 747 known as VMS Eve.

This flight was the second such check flight that Virgin has flown with Unity from its Spaceport America launch facility in New Mexico, however it was performed at larger altitudes and at larger speeds than the sooner flight. This units up Virgin to now transfer on to powered spaceflight from Spaceport America — its first on the facility, although Unity itself has flown beforehand in a check capability, reaching a top of 55.9 miles above Earth at supersonic speeds in 2019 for its most spectacular demonstration.

Virgin Galactic returned to powered spaceflight testing on the Mojave Air and Space Port in California in 2018 — 4 years after it had a deadly crash throughout testing of Unity’s predecessor, VSS Enterprise. Virgin’s copilot for that flight, Michael Alsbury, was tragically killed in that incident, and pilot Peter Siebold suffered critical accidents.

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Unity has had no such points, and as we speak’s unpowered glide flight appears to have gone completely to plan, offering Virgin with key knowledge about flight circumstances and plane/spacecraft conduct from the New Mexico launch website, which is able to in the end additionally serve Virgin Galactic’s paying prospects because the departure and return location for his or her vacationer journeys to the sting of house.

The subsequent main step for the corporate because it strikes towards truly getting these ticket-holders on their house excursions is performing powered check flights from Spaceport America. As talked about, Unity has performed powered check flights beforehand, together with with Virgin’s Chief Astronaut Trainer Beth Moses on board, however there are nonetheless a lot of middleman steps that have to happen to get there, together with reviewing the information collected throughout as we speak’s flight, and making any small modifications to the launch and flight system which may be required to make sure the success of a powered spaceflight.

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Virgin had been trying to start industrial flights as early as the center of this yr, however on condition that it nonetheless has some important testing to finish, the timeline appears extra like finish of yr as a best-case situation for any precise vacationer launches.

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