SpaceShipTwo Unity on the runway after its seventh glide flight. (Credit; Virgin Galactic)
Virgin Galactic Flight Test Update
Jan. 11, 2018
January blues? Not a problem in Mojave today as VSS Unity successfully completed her seventh glide flight!
It’s been a few months since our last flight, during which we worked through a planned period of focused ground time. This involved extensive analysis, testing and small modifications to ensure vehicle readiness for the higher loads and forces of powered test flight. Today we tested that work by pushing Unity’s atmospheric capabilities hard, touching top-end glide speeds as pilots Mark ‘Forger’ Stucky and Michael ‘Sooch’ Masucci completed a busy test card.
Alongside confirming the work that has taken place on the ground, the glide flight tested transonic flight performance, stability and control. After release from mothership VMS Eve, the spaceship was immediately pushed into a sharp descent, accelerating to Mach 0.9 which is around the maximum airspeed we can achieve without igniting the rocket motor!
At this stage of the glide flight programme, each flight is essentially a dry run for rocket-powered test flights. Where possible the team replicates those powered flight conditions by, for example, adding water ballast ...