Virgin Galactic takes to the skies again after 4 years
Yesterday, April 5th, Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity successfully completed its first supersonic, rocket-powered flight after spending two years going under extensive ground and atmospheric testing. Yesterdays flight saw amazing performance in terms of vehicle performance and altitude achieved, as well as the duration that the rocket burned for.
Unity was dropped from Eve, the carrier aircraft, at about 46,500ft and ignited its main engine, accelerating the vehicle to nearly Mach 2 during the 30-second burn of the hybrid motor. This motor was manufactured and tested by The Spaceship Company and is a hybrid motor, fueled by nitrous oxide and a HTPB solid compound.
After reaching an apogee of 84,270ft, the vehicle raised the tail wings to allow it to reenter the dense atmosphere in a controlled and safe orientation. The tail wings are then lowered at 50,000ft and then the vehicle throws away the remaining oxidizer and prepares to glide back home for a smooth runway landing.
This flight marks a key moment for Virgin Galactic's test flight program and gives a lot of data for their engineers to review for the next flight.