Commercial space flight company Virgin Galactic is a step closer to taking paying passengers into space as it moves its main spaceship to Spaceport America. The spaceship, also known as SpaceShip 2 Unity, was transferred to the New Mexico space launch centre on top of the carrier aircraft, VMS Eve. The flight from the development site in Mojave, California was an opportunity for the team to test Unity under cold and high altitude conditions for three hours. Virgin hopes to begin taking its first cohort of paying astronauts up to the edge of space later this year, including founder Richard Branson. Spaceport America is based near the New Mexico town of Truth or Consequences and will be home to Virgin Galactic's commercial operations.
Aerospace start-up Virgin Galactic's new spaceship will start flight tests in Mojave in the "near future," the company said Wednesday. The first test for SpaceShipTwo, dubbed VSS Unity at its unveiling in February, will be what the Long Beach firm calls a "captive carry," in which the spaceship will stay attached to its carrier WhiteKnightTwo aircraft for the entire flight. That test is intended to gather aerodynamic performance data on the vehicle, as well as testing one of the "abort modes" -- when SpaceShipTwo stays "mated" to the carrier aircraft in case of a problem and returns to the airport. Later, Virgin Galactic will progress to glide tests in which SpaceShipTwo will be released from its carrier aircraft and fly on its own. SpaceShipTwo eventually will be in the business of carrying tourists, who have paid up to 250,000, into space.
It replaces the craft Virgin lost following 2014's fatal crash, when Pilot Michael Alsbury was killed in the accident, which dashed Virgin Galactic's plans to start commercial operations as early as this year. 'In this configuration, WhiteKnightTwo serves as a veritable '"flying wind tunnel,"allowing the highest fidelity method of testing airflow around SpaceShipTwo while simultaneously testing how the spaceship performs when exposed to the frigid temperatures found at today's maximum altitude of 50,000 feet and above,' the post said. 'In this configuration, WhiteKnightTwo serves as a veritable '"flying wind tunnel,"allowing the highest fidelity method of testing airflow around SpaceShipTwo while simultaneously testing how the spaceship performs when exposed to the frigid temperatures found at today's maximum altitude of 50,000 feet and above,' the company's blog post said In October 2014, SpaceShipTwo - a plane designed to run the first ever passenger flights into space - split into pieces as it fell to Earth over California's Mojave Desert. VSS Unity is the first vehicle to be manufactured by The Spaceship Company, Virgin Galactic's wholly owned manufacturing arm, and is the second vehicle of its design It replaces the craft Virgin lost following 2014's fatal crash, when Pilot Michael Alsbury was killed in the accident, which dashed Virgin Galactic's plans to start commercial operations as early as this year.
Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo commercial space plane has officially made its first successful test flight out of Spaceport America, its base in New Mexico. On Friday, the company announced that its suborbital spacecraft, called VSS Unity, marked "an important flight test milestone in preparation for commercial service." Though Unity had already completed several successful glide tests -- including milestone flights in December 2018 and February 2019 -- this was the first successful free flight in the New Mexico airspace. Watch SpaceShipTwo Unity fly freely in New Mexico airspace for the first time, completing an important glide flight milestone in its test program. According to the online statement, "The milestone flight took off from the Spaceport America runway, with VSS Unity attached to the carrier aircraft, VMS Eve."
Virgin Galactic could send one of its rockets into space for the first time this week. Richard Branson's space firm says its next test flight, currently scheduled for Thursday, will'burn the rocket motor for durations which will see our pilots and spaceship reach a space altitude for the first time.' Branson has previously said his space tourism firm will carry passengers beyond orbit'not too long after' that - with him on the first flight. 'Dark sky, blue glow, totally amazing; a million dollar view' Michael'Sooch' Masucci, Pilot VSS Unity, said. 'For Virgin Galactic, the major milestone that we perceive is the altitude at which NASA and Air Force folks get their astronaut wings, which is 50 miles,' George Whitesides, chief executive of Virgin Galactic, said last month.