The VSS Enterprise spaceship on 10 October flew under its own control and glided to a landing at the Mojave Air and Spaceport for the first time.
The unpowered test with test pilot Pete Siebold and co-pilot Mike Alsbury aboard marked a major event on the path to the first powered flight test for the programme sponsored by Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic.
As the first aircraft in the Scaled Composites SpaceShipTwo class, the Enterprise had already flown four times while attached to the VMS Eve mothership.
On this flight, Eve carried the Enterprise to an altitude of 45,000ft, then released the aircraft after checking that all systems were working.
During the flight, Siebold and Alsbury completed a number of test points, including an initial evaluation of handling and stall characteristics, verifying stability and control predictions and analysing the profile of the spaceship's lift-to-drag profile.
SpaceShipTwo aircraft are designed to boost into suborbital space at speeds over M3.5. After reaching apogee, the pilot must glide the aircraft to a landing.
… part of Reed Business Information
2013, Reed Elsevier v 220.127.116.11