The “VSS Unity” space plane operated by Virgin Galactic completed a manned space test flight on Saturday (local time). The capsule, piloted by two pilots, was launched on a carrier aircraft from Spaceport America in the US state of New Mexico. The mother ship “VSS Unity” landed at an altitude of approximately 14 km. Then the space capsule accelerated its rocket engine and continued its flight.
“Now in space”, Virgin Galactic wrote on Twitter before the plane returned to Earth and landed safely in the spaceport. British billionaire Richard Branson, who wants to offer commercial space flights with his company, Virgin Galactic, continued the test flight at the site.
During a test flight last December, the rocket engine did not work as planned. VSS Unity landed directly on Earth after detaching from its parent ship, without reaching space first.
Branson’s space program suffered its worst setback in November 2014 when a previous SpaceShip Two prototype crashed on a test flight over California and a pilot was killed in the process. Too early use of pedigree software has been identified as a possible cause of the breakdown. (What / dpa)