Virgin Galactic Completes Third Supersonic Test Flight

Posted on January 11, 2014

SpaceShipTwo during third supersonic test flight

Virgin Galactic successfully completed its third rocket-powered supersonic space flight of SpaceShipTwo (SS2) yesterday. SS2 is a reusable space vehicle designed to carry passengers on space tourism flights. The third flight tested the spacecraft's Reaction Control System (RCS) and newly installed thermal protection coating.

During the first state of the flight the WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) carrier aircraft lifting SS2 to an altitude around 46,000 ft. On release, SS2's rocket motor was ignited. This powered SS2 to a planned altitude of 71,000 ft. This is the highest altitude SS2 has reached so far. SS2 reached a maximum speed of Mach 1.4.

Sir Richard Branson said in a statement, "I couldn't be happier to start the New Year with all the pieces visibly in place for the start of full space flights. 2014 will be the year when we will finally put our beautiful spaceship in her natural environment of space. Today, we had our own Chief Pilot flying another flawless supersonic flight and proving the various systems required to take us safely to space, as well as providing the very best experience while we're up there."

Take a look:

Photo: Virgin Galactic

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