SpaceShipTwo has returned to flight, having successfully completed a 26 June glide test. The Scaled Composites-built suborbital spacecraft has been grounded for several months for inspections and modifications. The previous flight was 29 September, 2011, when the spacecraft suffered a tail stall, from which the crew recovered and landed without incident.
"It was the first time that we have flown in several months," says Virgin Galactic. "I think the main thing was to get it up and flying again."
The next flight is not yet scheduled, pending data from this latest glide test.
"We hope that Scaled is able to maintain a fairly ambitious glide flight schedule over the summer," says Virgin Galactic.
On 20 June Scaled completed a full-duration hot fire of RocketMotorTwo, the first to be conducted at the company's Mojave, California facility. The Mojave test stand is purpose-built to resemble the SpaceShipTwo operating environment, whereas the previous tests at engine manufacturer Sierra Nevada Corporation's Colorado facility have not mimicked the operating environment.
"The (Mojave facility) is meant to wrap all the rocket components into an envelope that is identical to the interior envelope," says Virgin Galactic.