Feeds

Virgin Galactic spaceship goes supersonic in second test flight

Beardy Branson's SpaceShipTwo takes fleshy cargo beyond Mach 1

The Power of One Infographic

Virgin Galactic has moved one step closer to actual spaceflight with its second supersonic flight of its passenger carrying SpaceShipTwo.

The test flight was a key milestone in the firm's attempt to become the world's first commercial space liner, flying (wealthy) tourists for brief journeys into suborbital space.

The company's carrier aircraft, which gets the SpaceShipTwo (SS2) into position, carried the rocket-powered craft to an altitude of 46,000 feet before letting go. SS2 pilots Mark Stucky and Clint Nichols of Scaled Composites then burned the rocket motor for 20 seconds to get the ship to 69,000 feet, during which it topped out at a maximum speed of Mach 1.43.

During the test, the craft also deployed its twin tail sections to the "feathered" position, a feature that's designed to slow the ship's descent and get it safely touched down back on Earth. The idea behind the design is to reduce wear and tear on the SS2 so it can eventually make several trips a day into space.

“We couldn’t be more delighted to have another major supersonic milestone under our belts as we move toward a 2014 start of commercial service,” said Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson. “It was particularly thrilling to see for the first time today the whole elegant system in action during a single flight, including the remarkable feathering re-entry system." ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.