Image by Virgin Galactic
Back in December we saw Virgin Galactic make their first successful glide flight when the VSS Unity glided down from 50,000 feet above the Mojave Desert.
In the morning of May 1st we saw another first for Richard Branson’s space tourism company Virgin Galactic. The mothership WhiteKnightTwo left from Mojave Air and Space Port with the smaller space ship VSS Unity attached underneath it. During this fourth glide test flight in five months, they used the ‘feather’ re-entry system for the very first time in the air.
The VSS Unity was piloted by Mark Stucky and Mike Masucci and the WhiteKnightTwo had Nicola Pecile, CJ Sturckow and flight test engineer Dustin Mosher on board. Overall, it was the 8th flight for the VSS Unity.
This feather system allows for aerodynamic braking on re-entry after the vehicle has been to suborbital space. This was done after extensive testing on the ground of the feather system. As always there is now a lot of data to analyze by the team and hopefully we’ll see another test soon.
The next big step for the spaceflight company will be rocket-powered flights. Virgin Galactic is still planning on getting people to space before the end of 2018.
— Virgin Galactic (@virgingalactic) May 1, 2017