The window for the third crewed spaceflight of VSS Unity, Virgin Galactic’s newest SpaceShipTwo area airplane, opens on Dec. 11, firm representatives introduced on Tuesday (Dec. 1).
The take a look at flight, which is able to carry off from New Mexico’s Spaceport America, had been scheduled to happen between Nov. 19 and Nov. 23. A latest surge of COVID-19 infections throughout the state nixed that plan, nonetheless, and the corporate will take pains to make sure that security comes first in the course of the newly introduced window.
Associated:How Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo works (infographic)
“In accordance with native authorities pointers and security protocols, we now have minimized the variety of individuals onsite to the best diploma potential,” Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier mentioned in an announcement on Tuesday.
“Whereas on this event no media or friends can be allowed onsite, our crew will endeavor to seize and share the gorgeous photographs with the world after the flight has been accomplished,” Colglazier mentioned. “We sit up for finishing this essential milestone in our take a look at flight program within the coming weeks.”
The 2-pilot, six-passenger SpaceShipTwo takes off from a runway beneath the wings of a service airplane generally known as WhiteKnightTwo. At an altitude of about 50,000 toes (15,000 meters), the area airplane drops free and makes its personal method to suborbital area with assistance from its onboard rocket motor.
VSS Unity has reached area twice so far, on take a look at flights in December 2018 and February 2019. Each of these missions lifted off from the Mojave Air and Area Port in southeastern California, close to the headquarters of The Spaceship Firm, Virgin Galactic’s manufacturing subsidiary.
The upcoming third take a look at flight would be the first from Spaceport America, the hub of Virgin Galactic’s coming business operations. The mission may also be the primary human spaceflight to carry off from New Mexico, firm representatives have mentioned.
VSS Unity moved to Spaceport America earlier this yr to start the ultimate levels of its take a look at marketing campaign. The spacecraft may begin flying operational, passenger-carrying missions subsequent yr.
About 600 individuals have booked a ticket to journey SpaceShipTwo, at a value (most not too long ago) of $250,000 per seat. Virgin Galactic just isn’t at present promoting tickets however intends to renew doing so early subsequent yr, after Virgin Group founder Richard Branson flies aboard VSS Unity. (Branson has lengthy mentioned he plans to be on considered one of Unity’s early flights.)
VSS Unity will not be the one SpaceShipTwo flying for for much longer. The Spaceship Firm is at present constructing two different automobiles, considered one of which is predicted to roll out of the manufacturing unit in early 2021, Virgin Galactic representatives have mentioned. The corporate’s hangar at Spaceport America can accommodate 5 SpaceShipTwos and two WhiteKnightTwos concurrently.
Mike Wall is the writer of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a guide in regards to the seek for alien life. Observe him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Observe us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Fb.