Virgin Galactic’s third supersonic test flight hits Mach 2 and 170,000 feet

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Virgin Galactic is celebrating the third profitable supersonic test flight of VSS Unity, the passenger spacecraft it intends to make accessible for house tourism within the close to future. This flight took the craft increased and quicker than ever, stressing the system and offering helpful information for the rocket airplane’s engineers.

Virgin’s two-part flight system makes use of a conventional jet-powered airplane, the WhiteKnightTwo-class VMS Eve, to hold the spacecraft as much as about 45,000 feet, after which the latter detaches and zooms forward (and upward) on rocket power.

Every of Unity’s flights has pushed its specs a bit additional: The first one, in April, achieved Mach 1.6 and simply over 84,000 feet of altitude. The second, in Could, hit Mach 1.9 and reached 114,500 feet.

In the present day’s went to Mach 2 and obtained as much as 170,000 feet, touching the Earth’s mesosphere earlier than gliding all the way down to a comfortable touchdown. It’s nonetheless not practically to house; the Karman Line, the place house “formally” begins, is about twice as high. However at this price it positive simply looks like a matter of time earlier than they stand up there.

Importantly, the rocket powering Unity’s flight burned this time for 42 seconds, effectively over the 30 seconds or so it’s been fired for till now. These checks essentially must advance diploma by diploma, however going from 30 to 42 is an enormous bounce that the engineers are in all probability thrilled about.

“Having been a U2 pilot and finished quite a lot of high altitude work, or what I believed was high altitude work, the view from 170,000 feet was simply completely wonderful,” stated one of many pilots, Mike “Sooch” Masucci, in a Virgin Galactic press release. “The flight was thrilling and frankly stunning. We have been capable of full numerous test factors which is able to give us good perception as we progress to our objective of business service.”

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The staff is working on analyzing the info from this flight, and after all inspecting and tweaking the spacecraft, and we will in all probability anticipate one other test flight within the subsequent few months.

Source : TechCrunch