Virgin Galactic is planning to conduct the first glide flight of its SpaceShipTwo spaceplane 'Unity' today (Tues 1st Nov). The flight will be the first of a short series of glide flights, prior to the installation of the hybrid motor and the first powered test flight, currently planned for early 2017.
Flight Global reports that Virgin Galactic is expected to resume flight testing of the SpaceShipTwo spaceplane "soon". The FAA has granted an operating license for SpaceShipTwo Serial 2 Unity, the replacement for the crashed Enterprise. A runway taxi test was conducted on 1 August.
New Spaceship Conducts Taxi Test as it Nears Start of Flight Test Program
We kicked off August with two important milestones.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA-AST) has awarded Virgin Galactic an operator license for SpaceShipTwo. The license award, which will ultimately permit commercial operations of the vehicle, was the culmination of several years of in-depth interaction with the FAA. The license review process consists of an in-depth review of the vehicles system design, safety analysis and flight trajectory analysis, culminating in FAA-AST approval.
And earlier this morning, our team conducted a taxi test with SpaceShipTwo (VSS Unity) and Range Rover Autobiography provided by Virgin Galactic’s automotive partner Land Rover. This test is an important step towards the flight test program.
We couldn’t be more proud of our team and their hard work to reach both milestones.
Virgin Galactic Senior Vice President of Operations Mike Moses said, “The granting of our operator license is an important milestone for Virgin Galactic, as is our first taxi test for our new spaceship. While we still have much work ahead to fully test this spaceship in flight, I am confident that our world-class team is up to the challenge.”
Check back soon for more details about the flight test program and what to expect on the ground and in the skies.
Virgin Galactic is positioning itself as a key player in the new “space renaissance” as it returns SpaceShipTwo to flight testing, chalks up commitments for its small satellite launch service, and teams up with Northrop Grumman on the US military's XS-1 spaceplane programme.
"Photographer and adventurer Jimmy Chin joined Land Rover in the Mojave Desert to witness the reveal of our global partner Virgin Galactic’s new VSS Unity. After capturing the moment, Jimmy embarked on the off-road adventure of a lifetime in a Range Rover Autobiography. In this video, he reflects on what it takes to explore unchartered territory, to venture into the unknown and to truly go Above and Beyond."
FEB 19, 2016: MOJAVE, CA: Richard Branson unveiled Virgin Galactic’s much anticipated second SpaceShipTwo at a ceremony in Mojave, CA, attended by his family, Virgin Galactic’s Founder Future Astronauts, stakeholders and partners. Professor Stephen Hawking named the new vehicle Virgin Spaceship (VSS) Unity via a recorded speech and said, “I would be very proud to fly on this spaceship.”
The ceremony featured four generations of Sir Richard’s family, from his mother Eve, Richard himself, his son Sam, to his grandchild Eva Deia who celebrated her first birthday by christening the spaceship in the traditional way but with milk in place of champagne. The ceremony also included a video congratulations from Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai emphasizing the importance of space to science and technical education.
The new SpaceShipTwo is the first vehicle to be manufactured by The Spaceship Company, Virgin Galactic’s wholly owned manufacturing arm, and is the second vehicle of its design ever constructed. VSS Unity featured a new silver and white livery and was guided into position by one of the company’s support Range Rovers, provided by its exclusive automotive partner, Land Rover.
Richard Branson said, “Together, we can make space accessible in a way that has only been dreamt of before now, and by doing so can bring positive change to life on Earth. Our beautiful new spaceship, VSS Unity, is the embodiment of that goal also great testament to what can be achieved when true teamwork, great skill and deep pride are combined with a common purpose.”
James Drew of FlightGlobal posts an update on the construction of SpaceShipTwo Serial 2, with technicians fitting the main oxidiser tank into the suborbital spaceplane in preparation for its maiden flight, which is expected “soon”.
The SS2 serial 2 spaceplane is nearing completion, and SpaceShipTwo flight tests are scheduled to restart in 2016, VG commercial director Stephen Attenborough told an audience of future astronauts at the Explorers Club in New York:-