Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo clears second powered test flight
Zee Media Bureau/Salome Phelamei
Mojave, California: Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo (SS2) completed its second powered test flight on Thursday (September 5), soaring higher than ever before as it roared through the skies.
The spacecraft, which is designed to take six passengers into sub-orbital space flight, was released from a giant jet-powered cargo aircraft called WhiteKnightTwo into the sky at an altitude of 46,000 feet.
The spaceship then burned its hybrid rocket engine for 20 seconds, twice as long as the initial rocket-powered test flight, pushing the aircraft to 69,000 feet above the Earth’s surface and a max speed of Mach 1.43, or approximately 1,090 mph.
“This is a giant step,” Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson wrote on his blog. “Our spaceship is now the highest commercial winged vehicle in history! We also successfully tested its feather system for carefree re-entry too - the first time that’s happened on a rocket-powered flight.”
The flight, which took place over the Mojave Desert, was piloted by Mark Stucky and Clint Nichols. During its one-hour flight,Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo (SS2) also tested a new system to slow down its re-entry into earth’s atmosphere.
The SpaceShipTwo (SS2)’s first rocket-powered flight was on April 29 this year reaching a maximum altitude of 55,000 feet and Mach 1.2.
The company hope to launch its commercial flights in 2014.
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