Photo courtesy of Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity safely and successfully completed her first supersonic, rocket-powered flight. After two years of extensive ground and atmospheric testing, the passing of this milestone marks the start of the final portion of Unity’s flight test program. The flight occurred three years after the fatal crash of VSS Enterprise in 2014.
VSS Unity took off April 5 into clear Mojave skies with Mark “Forger” Stucky and Dave Mackay in the cockpit, attached to the WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft, VMS Eve, piloted today by Mike Masucci and Nicola Pecile.
The mated vehicles climbed to a launch altitude of around 46,500ft over the Sierra Nevada Mountains and while pointing back at Mojave, Eve executed a clean release of Unity. After a few seconds, Unity’s rocket motor was brought to life and the pilots aimed the spaceship upward into an 80-deg climb, accelerating to Mach 1.87 during the 30 seconds of rocket burn. The hybrid (nitrous oxide/HTPB compound) rocket motor, which was designed, built and tested by The Spaceship Company, powered Unity today through the transonic range and into supersonic flight for the first time.
Check out the full video below: