The first photos from Virgin Galactic's test flight are breathtaking

07 April, 2018, 00:49 | Author: Alyssa Little
  • Richard Branson is'a little jealous of Musk's launch

The flight generated "valuable data on flight, motor and vehicle performance", which Virgin Galactic's engineers are now studying.

It was the first powered flight for the futuristic spaceplane since an earlier model was destroyed in 2014 when pilot error resulted in the release of the tail booms from their normally locked position during the initial moments of a rocket-powered test flight.

"Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard tweeted: "@virgingalactic back on track. The carrier jet, piloted by Mike Masucci and Nicola Pecile, climbed to an altitude of around 46,500 feet (about 14,200 meters) over the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

This was the first time Unity has achieved supersonic flight.

Founded in 2004, the company has not yet announced a date for the start of passenger flights but is selling tickets for a ride aboard SpaceShipTwo at $250,000 a seat. At 45,600 feet, the Unity was released, at which point it climbed upwards at 80 degrees in a Mach 1.87 climb.

Tom Watson becomes oldest victor of the Masters Par 3 Contest
Finau continued to wave to the crowd as he hobbled back up the green before waving to his family to join him in the celebrations. The 34th-ranked player in the world, Finau is scheduled to make his first Masters appearance on Thursday.

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

A reusable space plane created to carry two pilots and up to six passengers (or research payloads) into suborbital space, the SS2 is Virgin Galactic's means for "transforming access to space", for paying customers and researchers, according to the company's vision statement. "While we celebrate that achievement, the team remains focused on the challenging tasks which still lie ahead".

Officials did not say Thursday when SpaceShipTwo will make a full-duration test flight, or when commercial passengers could begin flying with Virgin Galactic. At over 320,000 feet - 100kms or 62 miles - a flight is considered to have reached outer space even if it does not make a complete orbit. Company officials said past year they hoped to begin flying tourists up to an altitude of 50 miles (80 kilometers) some time in 2018.

In the years since then, Virgin Galactic has changed the SpaceShipTwo design and training routine to address shortcomings that were pointed up during the investigation. A data review is next on the cards, before another flight will be carried out. "Space feels tantalisingly close now".

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