December 03, 2016

Update from Mojave: Successful First Glide Flight Test for VSS Unity

Our new spaceship, VSS Unity, has successfully completed its first free flight! Today’s important test flight marks the first time that a vehicle built by our sister organization, The Spaceship Company, has flown fully under its own control.

Today, VSS Unity was piloted by Mark Stucky and Dave Mackay, with pilots Mike Masucci and Todd Ericsson as well as flight test engineer Dustin Mosher in WhiteKnightTwo. Over the course of the 1 hour 20 minute flight–particularly the 10 minutes of free flight for SpaceShipTwo–our pilots, mission controllers, and ground crew collected valuable data.

Today’s test flight was the fifth flight of VSS Unity (and the 218th flight of WhiteKnightTwo), following several recent Captive Carry flights.

As referenced earlier, this glide flight was the first of many. We have not yet reached the rocket powered phase of the test flight program—first we need to gather test flight data to confirm our analyses and calculations about how VSS Unity will perform in a wide variety of real-world flight conditions.

As expected, for this first gliding test flight, VSS Unity was flying light and slow, achieving a maximum speed of approximately Mach 0.6 while gliding home from an altitude of 50,000 feet. An initial look at the data as well as feedback from our two pilots indicate that today’s flight went extremely well, but we’ll take the time to properly and thoroughly analyze the vehicle’s performance before clearing the vehicle for our next test. We’re looking forward to getting back into the skies as soon as the engineers say we are ready to do so.

Please stay tuned to this site and our social media channels (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn) for more information as our flight testing program progresses.