Spaceship2 Fires Up Rocket Engine 4 Years After Accident

Virgin Galactic completes first rocket-powered, supersonic flight of its new spacecraft, Unity

Unity took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port, lifted by the jet-powered mothership Eve. It landed there more than hour later. It was the fifth powered test flight of the SpaceShipTwo design, and the first since the fatal crash of Spaceship Enterprise on Oct. 31, 2014


A two-member crew piloted Unity in Thursday’s test. During the test, Unity was expected to fire its engines for up to 30 seconds. Branson said in a tweet that the flight reached Mach 1.6, more than 1½ times the speed of sound.

The original SpaceShipTwo craft was built by experimental aircraft developer Scaled Composites. In 2016, Virgin Galactic unveiled the version of the SpaceShipTwo design on which Unity is based, built by The Spaceship Company. A subsidiary of Virgin Group, The Spaceship Company made alterations to the design, intending to avoid a repeat of the 2014 accident. The company is also building two more spaceships, intended to become part of the Virgin fleet for taking people to the edge of space.


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