SpaceShipTwo, VSS Unity, Prepares For Fifth Supersonic Powered Test Flight
Virgin Galactic’s historic, first spaceflight, was a wonderful way for our dedicated and talented teams to close 2018. But now, with the rocket motor from that flight on show at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and our first space pilots proudly wearing their FAA Commercial Astronaut Wings, we are getting ready to return VSS Unity to the black skies.
With the usual caveats that apply to all test flights, and with the added uncertainties of weather at this time of year in Mojave, the window for our fifth supersonic powered test flight opens tomorrow, Wednesday 20 February.
Although we passed a major milestone in December, we still have a way to go in testing the many factors that can affect a flight. So, for this flight, we will be expanding the envelope to gather new and vital data essential to future tests and operations, including vehicle center of gravity.
We are proud to be flying NASA Flight Opportunity program research payloads again. The spaceship will be a little heavier than last time, and very close to a full commercial weight.
We are now at the stage where we can confirm some of the aspects of the customer cabin and this will be a continuing theme as we enter this final stage of flight test. It is of paramount importance to our future business success that we not only give our future astronauts a safe ride, but an experience which exceeds expectations. We know, as part of a Group that has led the way in commercial aviation customer experience, cabin design is fundamental to that objective and so this element is an integral part of our flight test program.
As we prepare for this next flight, we do so with meticulous care and great attention to detail. As always, there are no guarantees that everything will go to plan or work perfectly and the team’s overriding priority is always to bring crew and spaceship home safely. Whether we complete all our objectives during the next flight or not, we remain committed to completing the final stages of flight test as quickly, but more importantly as safely, as possible.
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ABOUT VIRGIN GALACTIC
Virgin Galactic is the world’s first commercial spaceline. Founded by Sir Richard Branson and owned by the Virgin Group and Mubadala Investment Group, Virgin Galactic will transform access to space for the benefit of life on Earth. To date, over 600 men and women from over 50 countries—greater than the total number of humans who have ever been to space—have reserved places to fly on Virgin Galactic’s reusable space launch system, consisting of carrier aircraft WhiteKnightTwo and spacecraft SpaceShipTwo. SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo are manufactured and tested in Mojave, California by its manufacturing partner, The Spaceship Company (TSC). Spaceflight operations will be based at Spaceport America in New Mexico, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport.
ABOUT THE SPACESHIP COMPANY
The Spaceship Company (TSC) is Virgin Galactic’s space-system manufacturing organization. Headquartered at Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California, it is building and testing a fleet of WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft and SpaceShipTwo reusable spaceships that, together, form Virgin Galactic’s human spaceflight system. Its team of talented and dedicated engineers, technicians and professionals are drawn together by a willingness to disrupt and challenge the status quo and deliver innovative aerospace solutions to our customers’ needs. TSC’s extensive capabilities encompass preliminary vehicle design and analysis, manufacturing, ground testing, flight testing and post-delivery support.
ABOUT MUBADALA INVESTMENT COMPANY
Mubadala Investment Company actively manages a worldwide portfolio supporting the vision of a globally integrated and diversified economy, through sustainable returns to its shareholder, the Government of Abu Dhabi. In March 2018, Abu Dhabi Investment Council (ADIC) joined the Group.
Mubadala’s US $225 billion (AED 830 dirham) portfolio spans five continents with interests in aerospace, ICT, semiconductors, metals and mining, renewable energy, oil and gas, petrochemicals, utilities, healthcare, real estate, defense services, pharmaceuticals and medical technology, agribusiness and a global portfolio of financial holdings. Mubadala is a trusted partner, an engaged shareholder and a responsible global company that is committed to ethics and world-class standards.
For more information about Mubadala, please visit: www.mubadala.com