Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo recently completed its second succesful supersonic test flight, which also saw the spacecraft test its ‘feathered’ tail system.
Virgin boss Richard Branson must have been over the moon (pun intended) with the recent flight. He described the test flight as:
“The highest commercial winged vehicle [flight] in history.”
According to Universe today, SpaceShipTwo was airlifted by a carrier aircraft to 46,000 feet, where it was released. It then “lit its rocket motor for a 20-second burn. They climbed as high as 69,000 feet at a maximum speed of Mach 1.43.”
This was followed by the test of the craft’s feathered tail system.
“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 up as it comes back into the earth’s atmosphere,” Richard Branson explained.
Right, so basically anyone travelling on SpaceShipTwo will sort of be taking part in a rocket powered, super-sonic game of badminton in outer space……
Apart from the dadaistic (look it up) aspect, the flight looks very, very cool.
See for yourself: