Virgin’s Spaceship 2 goes higher than ever in latest test flight
Friday saw the latest test of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShip 2, its third flight under power after 28 unpowered glide tests. During its flight on Friday SS2 reached Mach 1.4 after a 20 second burn of its hybrid rocket engine that boosted it to a total height of 71,000 ft.
This test was pretty good for Virgin – SS2 has never been this high before and some important new systems were tested. A new reflective coating on the tail booms designed to shield the fuselage from the intense heat produced during the rocket burn and an attitude control system for maneuvering in space were apparently successful – although Virgin restrained themselves very well, only saying that “all test objectives were met”.
You can see flight test footage in this video released by Virgin here:
Virgin is something of an outlier in terms of spaceflight development – other major players like SpaceX, Blue Origin and Orbital Sciences are focussed on getting commercial payloads into space about traditional rockets while Virgin is developing SpaceShip2 solely for passengers on suborbital flights as a form of space tourism.
Regardless, it is still a very impressive achievement.