Published: Sat, April 07, 2018
Sport | By Floyd Cook

First Powered Test Flight of Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity Spaceship a Success

First Powered Test Flight of Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity Spaceship a Success

Richard Branson's company Virgin Galactic conducted a supersonic test flight of its SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity passenger rocket ship over the Sierra Nevada mountains on Thursday, the company said.

The successful test means Virgin Galactic is closer to moving operations to Spaceport America, near Truth or Consequences.

The rocket ship accelerated past the speed of sound for just a moment before slowing down and turning around for a glide back home.

Virgin Galactic is now officially back in the game after the successful test flight of the VSS Unity spaceship.

The company said in a statement: "The flight has generated valuable data on flight, motor and vehicle performance which our engineers will be reviewing".

Virgin Galactic is the first private company to offer trips out of the atmosphere that are open to private citizens.

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This manoeuvre was initiated after the Unity's rocket motor was shut down and the aircraft had reached an apogee of 84,271 feet. The company has not revealed how many more test flights are planned, or when tourist flights are likely to begin.

The completed mission is the first test the space company has carried out since the fatal crash of the 2014 mission that killed one of its pilots, so it goes without saying there was a lot riding on it. Unity, which "incorporates the additional safety mechanisms adopted after the 2014 VSS Enterprise test flight accident", according to a press release, is much heavier and is not created to reach quite those heights.

There's video from VSS Unity's first rocket-powered flight, as well.

"It's a big step forward for our team, Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said when reached by phone". 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.

Other than the technical specifics of the flight, Virgin Galactic didn't say much yesterday. "While we celebrate that achievement, the team remains focused on the challenging tasks which still lie ahead".

Unity then turned around and glided back down to earth, landing safely in the Mojave desert with the mothership touching down shortly afterwards.

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