Virgin Galactic succeeds in the next space test flight

In 2014 the private space plane “SpaceShipTwo” crashed over California, now the successor “VSS Unity” has successfully entered space. The goal is clear.

Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity has now made it into space.

Dhe spaceplane “VSS Unity” operated by Virgin Galactic completed a manned space test flight on Saturday. The capsule, manned by two pilots, was launched on board a carrier aircraft from the commercial spaceport Spaceport America in the American state of New Mexico.

The mother ship dropped off the “VSS Unity” at a height of almost 14 kilometers. The space capsule then accelerated for 60 seconds with its own rocket engine and briefly continued its flight at three times the speed of sound (Mach 3). It reached an altitude of 89.2 kilometers, as Virgin Galactic later announced. “Now in space,” wrote Virgin Galactic during the event on the short message service Twitter – before the spaceplane returned to Earth and landed safely at the spaceport. The carrier aircraft also returned unscathed.

The British billionaire and adventurer Richard Branson, who wants to offer commercial space flights with his company Virgin Galactic, followed the test flight on site. It was the company’s third successful flight into space since 2018, and the first from the new location in New Mexico. “We have now flown seven people into space and continue our mission to open space for everyone,” said Branson on Twitter.

During a test flight last December, the rocket engine did not work as planned. “VSS Unity” landed back on earth immediately after separating from the mother ship, without having first reached space.

Branson’s private space program suffered the worst setback in November 2014 when the previous model “SpaceShipTwo” crashed during a test flight over California and a pilot was killed in the process. Too early use of the descent program was identified as a possible cause of the crash.

The company is planning another three test flights this year, one of which Branson intends to take part. The 18-meter-long “VSS Unity” capsule offers space for two pilots and six passengers, and from 2022 onwards it is expected to take tourists into space. In total, more than 600 people are said to have bought one of the tickets, which cost around $ 250,000 (about 205,000 euros), including celebrities.