Virgin Galactic cuts short test flight of SpaceShipTwo Unity plane

Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc, an American spaceflight company, has recently cut short a test flight of a suborbital plane, SpaceShipTwo Unity. Additionally, the spaceflight safely returned the pilots to New Mexico-based Spaceport America, following its failure to complete the ignition sequence of the rocket motor.

The space tourism company has been preparing for commercial flights in 2021 and targeting to launch the Unity spaceplane at an altitude of up to 50 miles to test the boosters and cabin experience in-flight.

SpaceShipTwo Unity was reportedly carried to roughly 13,410 meters (44,000 feet) altitude by a mothership dubbed White Knight 2 with the twin-fuselage design. It had been detached from its carrier plane at the local time of around 9:15 a.m. However, according to the live video stream, the firing of the engines appeared only for a short period.

People with knowledge of the matter have reportedly claimed that the rocket motor’s ignition sequence did not complete. The crew and spaceflight are presently in great shape. Moreover, Virgin Galactic is set for several other motors at Spaceport America. The company is also currently focusing on vehicle upgradation and planning for its rapid launch.

The recent Unity flight was geared towards gathering crucial test data that are required to advance the commercial spaceflight license with the Federal Aviation Administration in the U.S., prior to its 1st customer flight in 2021. Signed-up passengers for the suborbital flight on this rocket-powered plane will be strapped into 6 custom seats as well as peer out of the 12 circular windows of the cabin. In order to experience this flight at an altitude of over 60 miles above the Earth, passengers must pay $250,000 a ticket.

Founded in 2004 by Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic has 600 customers who have signed up for the flight, with more than 400 others with a high interest. The founder is also anticipated to be aboard in 1 of the flights.

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https://in.reuters.com/article/space-exploration-virgingalactic/bransons-virgin-galactic-cuts-short-test-flight-from-new-mexico-spaceport-idINKBN28M0RK