Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo completes second flight from Spaceport America

SpaceShipTwo Unity second glide flight over Spaceport America ©Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic has announced the successful completion of the second SpaceShipTwo test flight from Spaceport America. This flight follows the completion of the first test flight from the company’s commercial headquarters in New Mexico on May 1, 2020, and marks another important milestone as the team progresses toward the launch of Virgin Galactic’s commercial service.

This glide flight, flown at higher speeds, allowed the team to continue to evaluate systems and vehicle performance in advance of future rocket-powered space flights from the company’s new operating base in New Mexico.  Flying VSS Unity in glide configuration at higher speeds enables certain vehicle systems to operate close to the environment seen during phases of rocket boost on a spaceflight. The spaceship achieved a glide speed of Mach 0.85 after being released from the mothership VMS Eve at an altitude of 51,000 ft.  Unity completed multiple test-points before touching back down smoothly for a runway landing at Spaceport America.

The pilots performed a series of maneuvers with Unity designed to gather data about performance and handling qualities while flying at higher speeds. This data will be verified against similar maneuvers that were performed in the previous glide flight to enhance aerodynamic modelling.

The test flight was conducted under a set of stringent operational protocols to ensure safety against COVID-19. 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.

Last weekend, the Company’s Spaceship and Propulsion teams completed a full ‘wet dress’ rehearsal designed to check out the new facilities and equipment at Spaceport America.  During this rehearsal, the teams positioned the spaceflight system on the runway and loaded VSS Unity with active propellant.

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