Virgin Galactic is continuing to pore over data generated by the first powered flight of its SpaceShipTwo crewed suborbital vehicle, following achievement of the milestone on 29 April. Early analysis of the sortie suggests the vehicle and its engine satisfactorily achieved their test points, says the space tourism company.
The flight marks the first airborne ignition for a crewed commercial suborbital vehicle, and brings routine commercial spaceflight one giant leap closer to reality. “From our perspective it went terrific. We had a smooth initiation of the burn, the burn itself was high quality, it had a good end with a good smooth shut-off,” says George Whitesides, president of Virgin Galactic.
“Equally important, maybe even more important, the aerodynamic qualities of the spacecraft through transonic and supersonic points were controlled and understood, and matched predictions. Overall it was a really good start to the next phase of test flights.”