This morning, Richard Branson’s space travel agency Virgin Galactic made the first test flight of his spacecraft from the company’s home in New Mexico and brought the space home before it reached space. During the flight, the space engine was cut off very quickly and both pilots of the vehicle initially had to slide to the ground.
Abandoned engine ignition caught directly By a Twitch Livestream Offered by the store NASASpaceflight. The video shows a spacecraft called VSS Unity descending mid-air from its carrier plane as planned. According to the video, the vehicle briefly ignited its main engine, but the ignition was cut off a moment later. In a typical flight, the space engine is ignited for a full minute, propelling the vehicle to the edge of space.
After the engine was cut out, VSS Unity became a glider and returned to its launch site in New Mexico. The company confirmed that the VSS unit landed safely on the runway after the abortion, and that two pilots of the aircraft, C.J. Sturkov and Dave McKay, It made it “safe and sound again. “There were no passengers on the plane, but the vehicle was carrying a large number of microgravity payloads to NASA. Virgin Galactic suggested that this might change the engine motor in the future.
Initial update of the aircraft: The ignition line for the rocket motor is incomplete. The vehicle and crew are in excellent condition. Spaceport We have many motors ready in the United States. We will check the vehicle and get to the plane soon.
– Virgin Galactic (irvirgingalactic) December 12, 2020
Today’s flight is the third time the Virgin Galactic VSS unit has been sent into space. The previous two test flights, Held in late 2018 And In early 2019, Took place from the company’s testing facility at Mojave Air and Spaceport from California. After those last trials, Virgin Galactic moved its operations to the company’s new, flagship home, A glossy facility called Spaceport America in the desert of New Mexico. From this facility Virgin Galactic plans to operate all of its commercial cruise flights.
Virgin Galactic VSS The aircraft was considered an important step as the company was preparing to send its first passengers into space on the VSS unit from Spaceport America. With over 600 early customers signing up for flights, the Virgin Galactic hopes to launch commercial passengers for the first time in 2021. Branson, the company’s founder, will begin business operations with his first aircraft next year.
With today’s abortion, it is unclear how Virgin Galactic will continue. If the flight was a success, the Virgin Galactic would have planned to launch another powerful test flight before Branson headed into the sky. The next flight will have two test pilots and a “full room of mission experts,” the company said. Virgin Galactic has already flown its first test passenger, Beth Moses, over the company Second space flight in February 2019. But on one of these trips the company has not yet flown to the full room. Virgin Galactic may choose to do today’s test first.
Going into space, VSS Unity actually flies in the air in the middle. A giant carrier called the VMS Eve takes the spacecraft, along with its pilots, to an altitude of 50,000 feet in the cockpit. From there, the VSS unit departs, and the pilots ignite the vehicle’s main engine and begin to climb into space. Eventually, the engine stops and the passengers on the plane experience a few minutes of weight loss when they see the curve of the earth. To return home, the pilots change wings on the VSS unit and re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere, sliding back to the ground and landing on the runway.
Virgin Galactic was supposed to fly this test a few weeks ago, but had to delay it after the introduction of the new COVID-19 regulations in New Mexico. Today’s flight was “operated with only essential personnel under strict COVID-19 protocols,” the company said. No guests or members of the press were allowed to view the aircraft from space.
Once business operations begin, the Virgin Galactic aircraft will include two test pilots and eventually up to six passengers in the cabin. Before they fly, passengers will spend up to three days training in Spaceport America before riding in the VSS unit. The first 600 passengers set to fly with the company paid $ 250,000 per ticket, although Virgin Galactic says those prices will change over time. The company also plans to reopen occasional ticket sales next year.