PICTURE & VIDEO: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo in first captive carry flight

Source: Flightglobal.com
This story is sourced from Flightglobal.com

At about 07:15h Pacific Daylight Time (14:15h GMT) today Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnight Two carrier aircraft Virgin MotherShip Eve took off from runway 30 at Mojave air and spaceport with SpaceShipTwo attached.

virgin galactic

Above: Virgin Galactic's first SpaceShipTwo captive carry flight's take-off at about 07:15h local time on 22 March 2010 from Mojave air and spaceport

The flight lasted for aboutt 3h and occured in mild weather with no gusts, calm conditions, and a local temperature of just 13° Celsuis (36°Farenheit) with a low speed wind coming from the westerley direction.

In a 22 March Virgin Galactic statement Burt Rutan, founder of SpaceShipTwo's developer Scaled Composites, says, “This is a momentous day for the Scaled and Virgin Teams. The captive carry flight signifies the start of what we believe will be extremely exciting and successful spaceship flight test programme.”

Virgin Galactic president Will Whitehorn told Flightglobalcom: "This is the first captive carry flight, it won't go to [50,000ft release] altitude."

The test flight programme will continue though 2010 and 2011, according to Virgin Galactic, progressing from captive carry to independent glide and then powered flight.

More photos from this first captive carry flight are available from Rob Coppinger's blog Hyperbola.