Richard Branson joined Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company teams to witness VSS Unity’s successful flight
Richard Branson joined the team on the Mojave Air and Space Port flight line to witness VSS Unity’s second successful, supersonic, rocket powered test flight.
“It was great to see our beautiful spaceship back in the air and to share the moment with the talented team who are taking us, step by step, to space” Branson said.
“Seeing Unity soar upwards at supersonic speeds is inspiring and absolutely breathtaking. We are getting ever closer to realizing our goals. Congratulations to the whole team!”
The focus of the flight was to expand Virgin Galactic’s understanding of the spaceship’s supersonic handling characteristics and control system’s performance with vehicle parameters that were closer to the ultimate commercial configuration.
This involved shifting the vehicle’s center of gravity rearward via the addition of passenger seats and related equipment.
The rocket motor burned for the planned 31 seconds and propelled Unity to a speed of Mach 1.9 and an altitude of 114,500 ft.
As will be the case for future commercial flights, Unity’s unique re-entry feathering system was deployed for the initial descent before the final glide home to a smooth runway landing.
Once in commercial service, Virgin Galactic’s spaceships are designed to be turned around and flown at a higher frequency than has traditionally been the case for human spaceflight.
Richard Branson was on the runway tarmac to greet this flight’s VSS Unity pilots Dave Mackay and Mark “Forger” Stucky.
In addition to the pilots of VSS Unity, Branson recognized CJ Sturckow and Nicola Pecile, the pilots of the carrier aircraft, VMS Eve.