Virgin Galactic for a second time tested its reusable suborbital space vehicle, founded by Richard Branson, SpaceShipTwo . It went to 21.64 kilometers (13.45 miles) above Earth’s surface on Friday, January 10, 2014, in ten-minute test flight.
It was conceded by airplane to 46,000 feet (14,020 meters) on Friday and then set free. The craft using its rocket motor built by Sierra Nevada Corp. accomplished its highest altitude till date defending its previous test at California’s Mojave Desert.
SpaceShipTwo and its two-member crew slithered to a safe and sound landing in the desert north of Los Angeles.
The first commercial flight though is uncertain but is already loaded with hundreds of would-be tourists’ down payments.
The company’s chief pilot, Dave Mackay, was at the command during the flight, which reached a record height of 71,000 feet and a top speed of Mach 1.4, Virgin Galactic said in a statement.
Mackay and Mark Stucky, a test pilot from SpaceShipTwo’s designer and builder Scaled Composites, directed the 60-foot-long rocket plane back to a runway at Mojave, Calif.
The flight commenced with SpaceShipTwo’s takeoff from Mojave Air and Space Port underside the specially-designed WhiteKnightTwo carrier jet at 7:22 a.m. local time (10:22 a.m. EST; 1522 GMT)..
The rocket motor burned for 20 seconds to hasten SpaceShipTwo pace more than the speed of sound.
It was the third flight of SpaceShipTwo. The first rocket flight was in April 2013. Virgin Galactic said the flight tested SpaceShipTwo’s response control system, letting passengers have good views out of the window and newly-installed thermal protection system coating on the vehicle’s tail bangs used to maintain the proper skin temperatures while the hybrid motor is firing.
“Today’s flight was another resounding success,” said Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides. “We focused on gathering more transonic and supersonic data, and our chief pilot, Dave, handled the vehicle beautifully. With each flight test, we are progressively closer to our target of starting commercial service in 2014.”
SpaceShipTwo is a superior adaptation of the single-pilot craft used to capture the $10 million Ansari X Prize in 2004 after implementation of two flights of a personal reusable manned spacecraft within two weeks.
The company reports 680 reservations for the expected flights, including from celebrities like Katy Perry, Leonardo DiCaprio, and aspiring astronaut Lance Bass. Branson has said he and his family will be on the first passenger flight.