Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo completes first flight from Spaceport America

SpaceshipTwo Unity flying free in the New Mexico Airspace for the first time ©Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company (TSC) have announced the successful completion of its first SpaceShipTwo test flight from Spaceport America. This glide flight marks the inaugural solo flight of VSS Unity in New Mexico and as such is an important flight test milestone in preparation for commercial service.

On SpaceShipTwo’s flight deck were Dave Mackay and CJ Sturckow who, together with the team in Mission Control, executed some of the key elements of a spaceflight profile. These included take-off and landing along with high-altitude release from the mothership, VMS Eve, which was piloted by Michael Masucci and Kelly Latimer.

The flight took off from the Spaceport America runway, with VSS Unity attached to the carrier aircraft, VMS Eve. The vehicles climbed to an altitude of 50,000ft before Unity was released, at which point VSS Unity flew freely for the first time in New Mexico airspace. The spaceship achieved a glide speed of Mach 0.70 and completed multiple test-points, before touching back down smoothly for a runway landing at Spaceport America.

This test flight was conducted under a set of stringent operational protocols to ensure safety against COVID-19. Its successful execution was made possible by a concerted effort to redesign all the operational elements required for safe flight test while meeting new health and wellness protocols. These protocols include changes to the work areas and procedures to enforce social distancing, as advised by state guidelines as well as universal mask usage.

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