Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Virgin Galactic spaceship gets FAA's OK for test flights

Virgin Galactic spaceship gets FAA's OK for test flights:

The Federal Aviation Administration today cleared SpaceShipTwo, Virgin Galactic's six-passenger commercial space vehicle, to begin rocket-powered suborbital test flights.
More on the experimental launch permit from Virgin Galactic:

Already, SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo have made significant progress in their flight test program. With 80 test flights completed, WhiteKnightTwo is substantially through its test plan, while the more recently constructed SpaceShipTwo has safely completed sixteen free flights, including three that tested the vehicle’s unique “feathering” re-entry system. Additionally, ten test firings of the full scale SpaceShipTwo rocket motor, including full duration burns, have been safely and successfully completed.
With this permit now in hand, Scaled is now authorized to press onward towards rocket-powered test flights. In preparation for those powered flights, SpaceShipTwo will soon return to flight, testing the aerodynamic performance of the spacecraft with the full weight of the rocket motor system on board. Integration of key rocket motor components, already begun during a now-concluding period of downtime for routine maintenance, will continue into the autumn. Scaled expects to begin rocket powered, supersonic flights under the just-issued experimental permit toward the end of the year.

(photo: Alan Radecki)

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