Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Sets Speed And Altitude Records

Until Thursday morning, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo had never flown higher than 114,500ft. Thursday’s launch, executed with virtually zero press announcements, soared 170,800ft into suborbital flight and marked the first time the essential craft, the VSS Unity, had reached supersonic speeds on its return journey. With the success of Thursday’s launch, the seemingly science-fiction dream of commercial space flight inched that much closer to reality.

Piloted by Dave Mackay and Mike “Sooch” Masucci, the VSS Unity’s third rocket-powered launch allowed Virgin Galactic engineers to gather invaluable information about the craft’s thermal dynamics, aerodynamics, and its handling ability under supersonic conditions. The launch also featured an onboard mannequin named Annie (short for “anthropomorphic”), a sub-in for one of the six passengers the craft will eventually ferry into space. Annie was outfitted with sensors that gather data meant to predict the experience of human passengers.

Emboldened by the data collected on Thursday, Virgin Galactic plans to send the craft even higher in their next few test flights. Virgin Galactic’s CEO & President, George Whitesides, spoke about SpaceShipTwo and the importance of space travel to the future of humanity on the WORLDZ Main Stage back in 2016.


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