Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo has made its first flight in 'feathered' configuration, the planned standard configuration for the vehicle's atmospheric re-entry.
SpaceShipTwo landed safely at Mojave airport in California this morning after an 11-minute flight. Upon detaching from the carrier aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo, at approximately 15,600m (51,000ft), SpaceShipTwo rotated its tail section and wings by 65 degrees and descended rapidly to 33,000 before reconfiguring to standard glider position.
© VIRGIN GALACTIC
A press release from Virgin Galactic stated that all flight objectives were met; Virgin spokespeople were unavailable for immediate comment. SpaceShipTwo's predecessor, SpaceShipOne, was the first vehicle to use the feathered configuration for atmospheric re-entry, which provides greater stability than traditional spacecraft during re-entry. SpaceShipTwo, larger than SpaceShip One, is configured in much the same way.