One of Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic spaceships on Wednesday completed a re-entry technique known as a "feather" configuration for the first time.
The SpaceShipTwo (SS2), known as the VSS Enterprise, has now completed seven solo flights since its December 2009 debut, but Wednesday's was the first that successfully tested out this re-entry procedure.
Virgin Galatic is Branson's commerical spaceflight program, which plans to take the average (albeit wealthy) tourist into space in the next two years.
The VSS Enterprise took off from a California runway this morning at 6:43am Pacific time attached to the WhiteKnight (WK2) carrier aircraft, the VMS Eve. The spaceship was controlled by Pete Siebold and Clint Nichols, test pilots from Scaled Composites, which designed and build the spacecrafts. Mark Stucky, Brian Maisler, and Brandon Inks manned the VMS Eve.
Look what may be in space by the year 2010. The Xcor Lynx is a two-seater that can handle suborbital flying and takes off on a regular runway. It has so far been tested up to about 37 miles over the planet. Intended as a glider on the return flight, it can also come back by engine. About the same size of a small private plane, Xcor Aerospace said that they may be funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory for R&D. Not the first to do this, SpaceShipTwo, in development by Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, may begin test flights later this year on its commercial product.
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