WASHINGTON — Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceplane arrived at the company’s spaceport in New Mexico Feb. 13, ready for a final series of test flights before the company starts commercial operations.
The vehicle, named VSS Unity, flew from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California to Spaceport America in southern New Mexico attached to its WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft. The company used the flight to perform environmental evaluations of the vehicle and also conduct pilot training and familiarization.
The long-awaited transfer of VSS Unity from California to New Mexico marks the beginning of the final stage of flight tests of the vehicle. Virgin said it plans to perform a series captive carry flights, where SpaceShipTwo remains attached to WhiteKnightTwo, and glide flights, where SpaceShipTwo is released and glides back to the spaceport. Those will be followed by an unspecified number of powered test flights.
“We still have significant work ahead, but we are grateful to all our teammates who have made this day a reality,” George Whitesides, chief executive of Virgin Galactic, said in a statement about the move of SpaceShipTwo to New Mexico.
VSS Unity made its last powered flight nearly a year ago. Since then Virgin Galactic has ...