Friday, September 6, 2013

SpaceShipTwo goes supersonic, flips its wings in second powered flight

SpaceShipTwo goes supersonic, flips its wings in second powered flight



Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo rocket plane, the vehicle most likely to become the world’s first truly commercial spaceship, fired its engines in flight for the second time ever on Thursday.

Following up on its first powered flight in April, the craft went supersonic once more —and tested its wing-tilting re-entry system for the first time, Virgin Galactic said in a series of Twitter updates.

The company said the flight test “hit our planned duration, altitude and speed.” The hybrid rocket engine was fired for 20 seconds, sending SpaceShipTwo to a maximum velocity 1.43 times the speed of sound and a maximum altitude of 69,000 feet (21 kilometers), Virgin Galactic reported. That compares with 16 seconds, a top speed of Mach 1.2 and a maximum altitude of 56,200 feet for April’s flight.