Vir­gin Galac­tic craft takes first flight

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS -

Vir­gin Galac­tic’s new space­ship suc­cess­fully com­pleted its first free flight with a glide test over the Mo­jave Desert, the com­pany said.

The craft was car­ried aloft Satur­day morn­ing by its moth­er­ship, re­leased at an alti­tude of 50,000 feet and, with pilots Mark Stuck and Dave Mackay in the cock­pit, glided for 10 min­utes to a land­ing at Mo­jave Air and Space Port.

The space­ship, named Unity, had pre­vi­ously been flown on cap­tive-carry flights in which it re­mained at­tached to the wing of the moth­er­ship, a spe­cially de­signed jet.

Vir­gin Galac­tic said there will be many glide flights to con­firm how it per­forms in real-world con­di­tions be­fore test­ing pro­ceeds to rocket-pow­ered flights.

The com­pany said on its web­site that flight data and in­for­ma­tion from the pilots in­di­cated it went “ex­tremely well, but we’ll take the time to prop­erly and thor­oughly an­a­lyze the ve­hi­cle’s per­for­mance be­fore clear­ing the ve­hi­cle for our next test.”

Vir­gin Galac­tic’s first space­ship broke apart in 2014 dur­ing its fourth rocket-pow­ered test flight.

The craft is 60 feet long, has a wing­span of 42 feet and is de­signed to carry six pas­sen­gers in ad­di­tion to the two-per­son crew.

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