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Virgin Galactic foils the first powered space flight from New Mexico

This morning, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Space Tourism Company had to abort the first powered test flight of its space plane from the company’s New Mexico home, bringing the spacecraft home before it reached space. During the flight, the aircraft’s engine failed too early and the pilot of the craft had to slip to the ground early.

The ignition of the aborted engine was detected live By broadcasting live on Twitch Provided by the port NASAS space flight. The video showed the spacecraft, called VSS Unity, crashing from its carrier plane in the air as planned. The car then ignited its main engine for a short time, according to the video, but the ignition went out after a moment. On a typical flight, the plane’s engine would stay on for a full minute, pushing the vehicle to the edge of space.

Once the engine stopped, VSS Unity switched to a glider and returned to the launch site in New Mexico. The company confirmed that VSS Unity landed safely on the runway after the miscarriage, and its flight pilots, CJ Sturckow and Dave Mackay, Make it a “safe and sound return.”. “There were no passengers on board that flight, even though the vehicle was carrying a number of microgravity payloads for NASA. Virgin Galactic suggested it might replace the engine mover in the near future.

Today’s flight was supposed to be the third time Virgin Galactic VSS Unity has sent into space and back. The previous two test flights, Conducted in late 2018 And the Early 2019, Outside the company’s testing facility at Mojave Air and Spaceport outside California. After those last tests, Virgin Galactic moved its operations to the company’s new flagship home. A sparkling facility known as Spaceport America in the New Mexico desert. From this facility Virgin Galactic plans to conduct all of its commercial cruise flights.

While Virgin Galactic made a few VSS Unity glide flights from the spaceport before, the vehicle has yet to reach space from the facility. This flight was supposed to be an important step as the company prepares to send its first passengers into space on Spaceport America’s VSS Unity. With an initial 600 customers registering for flights, Virgin Galactic hopes to begin carrying commercial passengers for the first time in 2021. Branson, the company’s founder, is supposed to take his first flight next year, to begin its commercial operations.

With today’s miscarriage, it is unclear how Virgin Galactic will continue. If that flight was successful, Virgin Galactic had planned another powered test flight before Branson took off into the sky. According to the company, the next flight was to include two test pilots, as well as “an entire cabin of mission specialists.” Virgin Galactic has already flown its first test passenger, Beth Moses, aboard the company Second space flight in February of 2019. But the company hasn’t yet flown a full cabin on one of these flights. Virgin Galactic will likely choose to take today’s test first.

To reach space, VSS Unity takes off in mid-air. A giant carrier aircraft called the VMS Eve transports the spacecraft, with its pilots in the cockpit, to an altitude of 50,000 feet. From there, VSS Unity drops and pilots fire the vehicle’s main engine, and begin its ascent into space. Ultimately, the engine shuts down and the passengers on board experience a few minutes of weightlessness, as they see the curvature of the ground. To return home, the pilots then move wings on VSS Unity and re-enter Earth’s atmosphere, return to Earth and land on a runway.

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Virgin Galactic had hoped to take this test a few weeks ago, but was forced to delay after new restrictions on COVID-19 were imposed in New Mexico. The company said today’s flight was “conducted under strict COVID-19 protocols with only essential personnel on site.” Neither guests nor journalists were allowed to watch the flight from the spaceport.

Once commercial operations begin, Virgin Galactic’s flights will include two test pilots and eventually up to six crew cabin passengers. Before flying, passengers will spend up to three days training at Spaceport America prior to boarding VSS Unity. The first 600 passengers on board with the airline paid $ 250,000 for their tickets, although Virgin Galactic claims those fares will change over time. The company also plans to reopen ticket sales sometime next year.

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