The Virgin Galactic spaceship, VSS Unity, has successfully completed its first free flight on December 3, 2016. This important test flight marks the first time that a vehicle built by The Spaceship Company has flown fully under its own control.
Today, VSS Unity was piloted by Mark Stucky and Dave Mackay, with pilots Mike Masucci and Todd Ericsson as well as flight test engineer Dustin Mosher in WhiteKnightTwo. Over the course of the 1 hour 20 minute flight–particularly the 10 minutes of free flight for SpaceShipTwo–our pilots, mission controllers, and ground crew collected valuable data.
Video: Glide Flight of VSS Unity
The test flight was the fifth flight of VSS Unity (and the 218th flight of WhiteKnightTwo), following several recent Captive Carry flights.
As expected, for this first gliding test flight, VSS Unity was flying light and slow, achieving a maximum speed of approximately Mach 0.6 while gliding home from an altitude of 50,000 feet. An initial look at the data as well as feedback from our two pilots indicate that today’s flight went extremely well, but we’ll take the time to properly and thoroughly analyze the vehicle’s performance before clearing the vehicle for our next test.