Saturday, 22 September, 2018

Virgin Galactic completes first test flight since fatal crash

SpaceShipTwo test flight The SpaceShipTwo rocket plane is tucked beneath its White Knight Two mothership
Edward Snyder | 07 April, 2018, 00:51

"Virgin Galactic back on track".

A ticket to ride the space plane now sells for $250,000.

Virgin Galactic tweeted that the spaceship named Unity was carried aloft by its mother ship and released over California's Mojave Desert early on Thursday.

Test pilots Mark Stucky and Dave Mackay fired Unity's engines and rocketed skyward.

The firm praised pilots Mike Masucci and Nicola Pecile for the "great milestone test flight".

"The mated vehicles climbed to a launch altitude of around 46,500ft over the Sierra Nevada Mountains and while pointing back at Mojave, Eve executed a clean release of Unity", the company explained.

VSS Unity fired its rocket engine for 30 seconds yesterday, reaching a maximum altitude of 84,271 feet (25,686 meters) - that's almost 16 miles (25 kilometers) - and a top speed of Mach 1.87, Virgin Galactic representatives said.

With the engine shut down, Unity coasted upward to an apogee of 84,271 feet.




SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity had undergone two years of ground and atmospheric tests ahead of its first powered flight.

At around 50,000 ft., the tail-booms were lowered again and, while jettisoning the remaining oxidizer, Unity turned toward Mojave for the glide home and a smooth runway landing.

The National Transportation Safety Board also faulted Scaled Composites, which built the VSS Enterprise spacecraft and employed Alsbury and Siebold, for failing to address the risks and consequences of a pilot-induced error, raising chances that a catastrophic accident could be instigated by a single mistake.

The view from Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity during the spaceliner's first rocket-powered test on April 5, 2018.

The company noted that Unity has security mechanics that were formulated following the collision.

If all goes well, commercial operations could begin soon - perhaps before the end of the year, Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson has said. The propulsion system was not a factor in the accident. Unlike the last time in 2014, however, the test was a success and the VSS Unity managed to complete it first supersonic flight.

The company said in a statement: "The flight has generated valuable data on flight, motor and vehicle performance which our engineers will be reviewing". The next phase of testing is also now ready to commence, which will expand the duration of the rocket burns to their full potential under the design.

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