15:54 GMT03 August 2020
Listen Live
    Get short URL
    0 32

    According to a Thursday statement by Virgin Galactic, the space company’s second gliding test of its Unity spacecraft appears to have been a success. Now, the air-deployed spaceplane will move on to rocket engine tests, preparing for when it will one day fly into space.

    Flying out of its new Spaceport America in the New Mexico desert, space exploration company Virgin Galactic conducted its second successful gliding test of Unity, a SpaceShipTwo-class spaceplane on Thursday. The first flight for Unity was on May 1.

    According to the company, the test involved the huge carrier plane Eve taking off with Unity in tow and releasing it at an altitude of 51,000 feet, after which it glided home, attaining a speed of 650 miles per hour.
    Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Unity Released From VMS Eve for Second Glide Flight in New Mexico on June 25, 2020

    “I am thrilled with the team’s hard work to complete today’s test flight successfully,” Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said in a Thursday statement. “It was an important test that, pending data review, means we can now start preparing the vehicles for powered flight. Our focus for this year remains unchanged on ensuring the vehicles and our operations are prepared for long-term, regular commercial spaceflight service.”

    Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Unity Second Glide Flight over Spaceport America on June 25, 2020

    If the test stands up to “an extensive data review,” then the company will move on to live rocket tests.

    Eventually, Virgin Galactic aims to offer 90-minute trips to the edge of space in craft like Unity, which can carry six space tourists. The company has told its shareholders it expects to be profitable next year. Last month, founder Richard Branson announced he would sell off $500 million of his own stock in the company in an effort to salvage its financial solvency.


    Richard Branson to Sell $500 Million Worth of Virgin Galactic Shares to Save Company
    Virgin Orbit Says Air-Launched Rocket Tests Fail
    UK's Virgin Atlantic Airline to Resume Flights to US, China on 20 July
    test flight, SpaceShipTwo, Virgin Galactic
    Community standardsDiscussion