SpaceShipTwo Resumes Flight Testing

Virgin Galactic picks up testing at an aggressive pace.

SpaceShipTwo

SpaceShipTwo

** SpaceShipTwo during its recent glide test**

After receiving a special FAA permit for rocket-powered flights at the end of May, SpaceShipTwo has emerged from its nearly nine-month hiatus and quickly begun an aggressive flight-testing regimen along with its carrier vehicle, WhiteKnightTwo.

Little more than a month after gaining the permit, Virgin Galactic has since completed seven test flights and three full-blown rocket motor tests in what the company’s CEO and president, George Whitesides, called “a rapid escalation of test activity.”

Those tests included a glide flight of SpaceShipTwo, initiated after WhiteKnightTwo released the spacecraft at 51,000 feet, as well as multiple firings of the craft’s rocket motor system. The successful tests come as Virgin Galactic strives to meet its goal of beginning powered flight by the end of the year.

While Virgin Galactic has refrained from setting a firm date for future passenger-carrying spaceflights on SpaceShipTwo, it has already acquired a backlog of eager future space tourists who’ve put down a deposit for a $200,000 seat on the craft.

The 60-foot long carbon composite spaceship can hold two crewmembers and six passengers and is the first of what Virgin Galactic plans to expand into a larger, five spacecraft fleet.