On Friday, Virgin Galactic successfully completed their fourth suborbital space flight in four consecutive months. The mission included two company pilots, an astronaut trainer, and three space tourists who were able to experience the edge of space before returning.
The VSS Unity spaceplane was lifted into the air by Virgin’s twin-fuselage carrier jet and then released at an altitude of approximately 45,000 feet above the New Mexico desert, which is located to the west of the White Sands Missile Range.
Shortly after, the spacecraft’s hybrid rocket motor lit up with a burst of fire, propelling the sleek-looking ship in a nearly vertical direction and reaching speeds close to three times the speed of sound.
A video on Virgin’s X feed featured Baxter and his team floating in the cabin at the peak of their journey, visibly exhilarated by the feeling of weightlessness and the sight of Earth beneath them.
As Unity began to descend, its two angled wings rotated upward in a maneuver known as “feathering.” This action was intentionally designed to orient the spacecraft, create more drag in the atmosphere, and decrease the stress on the ship during re-entry.
In the lower part of the atmosphere, the wings were returned to their original position parallel to the body of the aircraft. The pilots then maneuvered the spaceplane, which was now operating as a glider, to land on the 12,000-foot runway at Spaceport America.
This was Unity’s eighth manned flight above 50 miles, which is considered the “boundary” of space by NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration. It was also Virgin’s third consecutive commercial flight with paying passengers.
On June 29, an aircraft was sent into the air to conduct microgravity research, carrying three Italian air force scientists on board.
SpaceX’s second commercial launch
On August 10, three space tourists were transported by Virgin Galactic, just like the previous flight on Friday. To date, a total of 37 company employees and commercial passengers have been launched in Unity’s eight flights.
it works on an upgraded version of its vehicle.
Blue Origin, led by Jeff Bezos, has completed six sub-orbital flights with a total of 32 passengers using its traditional New Shepard rocket and capsule. The company is currently on standby as it focuses on improving its vehicle.
Solving an issue with the booster. that occurred during an unpiloted microgravity research flight last September.
Virgin Galactic’s next flight is planned for October. Blue Origin has not yet announced when it plans to resume flights.