Advanced Television

Virgin Galactic flies again

April 28, 2023

By Chris Forrester

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space tourism aircraft – not to be confused with Virgin Orbit which is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy – is flying again.

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo made its first flight in almost two years on April 26th. It last flew with Branson aboard in July 2021.

The aircraft combination comprising its SpaceShipTwo’s suborbital craft VSS Unity and the mothership ‘Eve’ (named after Branson’s mother) flew out from its Spaceport America’s home in New Mexico.

Unity detached from the mother ship at 14,300 metres and then made a designated glide to a runway landing some nine minutes later.

Pilots CJ Sturckow and Nicola Pecile were at the controls of Unity during the test flight, while pilots Kelly Latimer and Jameel Janjua were flying Eve.

“Releasing Unity for a glide flight today is one of the final steps towards commercial spaceline operations,” Mike Moses, president of spaceline missions and safety at Virgin Galactic, said in a statement after the flight. “The data from this validation flight will clear the way for our return to space and, ultimately, lead to the launch of commercial service.”

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