Giant step for Virgin Galactic
LAS CRUCES, By Richard Branson :
Today is another historic day for Virgin Galactic. The team have carried out our second powered test flight, once again breaking the sound barrier and heading closer and closer to the stars.
This is a giant step. 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.
Virgin Galactic Chief Pilot Dave Mackay was at the controls of WhiteKnightTwo, which carried SS2 to an altitude of 46,000 feet. Then SS2 pilots Mark Stucky and Clint Nichols, of Scaled, ignited the rocket motor for a 20-second burn propelling the spaceship to 69,000 feet.
During this time, SS2 achieved a speed of Mach 1.43.
The main progress with this test is that we deployed the full expansion (up and down) of the feather mechanism at a high altitude, alongside testing the rocket motor performance. This feather mechanism was the key innovation that enabled us to get into the space program in the first place. It acts like a giant shuttlecock and slows the spaceship ...