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Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo successfully completes its seventh glide test

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Virgin Galactic’s second SpaceShipTwo model, the VSS Unity, successfully completed its seventh glide test this week, piloted by Mark ‘Forger’ Stucky and Michael ‘Sooch’ Masucci. The VSS Unity which is being built by Scaled Composites was dropped from the carrier aircraft WhiteKnightTwo at 50,000 feet. It has been reported that following Virgin’s review of the data from the flight, they are hopeful that this will be the last glide test for the VSS Unity before the first powered flight with its hybrid rocket engine. 

VSS Unity

The VSS Unity was put into dive almost immediately after being released from the carrier aircraft and hit Mach 0.9 in the spaceplane, which is around the maximum airspeed it can achieve without firing up its engine. 

In all of the glide tests carried out so far, the team has tried to replicate the powered flight conditions as much as possible, for example the VSS Unity carried a water ballast to simulate the weight and positioning of the hybrid rocket engine fuel in flight. The water ballast was then jettisoned at around 22,000 feet, allowing the pilots to fly and land the aircraft in a lighter configuration.

As a precaution, the VSS Unity flew with a thermal protection system (TPS) fully applied. This ensures that heat generated by air friction during rocket-powered boost and supersonic re-entry cause no damage to the craft. 

If everything goes to plan, the next time the VSS Unity take to the skies it could be flying under its own power. 

Whilst Fircroft doesn’t currently offer job vacancies in outer space, we do have thousands across planet Earth! If you want to open up a world of opportunity and make your engineering career a stellar success, then register with Fircroft today, and check out the roles we have available in Automotive, Infrastructure & Construction, Oil & Gas, Petrochemical, ICT, Mining & Minerals, and Power, Nuclear & Renewables.

Tags: Engineering
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Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo successfully completes its seventh glide test - Time to read 2 min
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