Space

Virgin Galactic's spaceplane relocated to Spaceport America

Virgin Galactic's spaceplane r...
The Virgin Galactic Spaceflight System in front of Spaceport America
The Virgin Galactic Spaceflight System in front of Spaceport America
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SpaceShipTwo and VMS Eve in the hangar of The Gateway to Space
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SpaceShipTwo and VMS Eve in the hangar of The Gateway to Space
The Virgin Galactic Spaceflight System in front of Spaceport America
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The Virgin Galactic Spaceflight System in front of Spaceport America
SpaceShipTwo Unity and VMS Eve land at Spaceport America
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SpaceShipTwo Unity and VMS Eve land at Spaceport America
SpaceShipTwo Unity relocates to Virgin Galactic’s Gateway to Space, Spaceport America, New Mexico
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SpaceShipTwo Unity relocates to Virgin Galactic’s Gateway to Space, Spaceport America, New Mexico
SpaceShipTwo Unity and VMS Eve take off from Mojave, CA and head towards Virgin Galactic's Gateway to Space, Spaceport America, New Mexico
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SpaceShipTwo Unity and VMS Eve take off from Mojave, CA and head towards Virgin Galactic's Gateway to Space, Spaceport America, New Mexico
The Virgin Galactic team welcome SpaceShipTwo to New Mexico
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The Virgin Galactic team welcome SpaceShipTwo to New Mexico
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Virgin Galactic has come one step closer to full commercial operations as it relocates its SpaceShipTwo, VSS Unity, from the company's manufacturing facility in Mojave, California, to its Spaceport America’s Gateway to Space building in New Mexico. Carried by its mothership, VMS Eve, the suborbital passenger spacecraft touched down on February 13, 2020, at 3:49 pm MT.

According to Virgin Galactic, Thursday's captive flight was more than ferrying VSS Unity to the company's commercial headquarters. With Italian Air Force Test Pilot Nicola "Stick" Pecile and Chief Pilot Dave "Mac" Mackay at the controls of the spaceplane, and Mike "Sooch" Masucci and Frederick "CJ" Sturckow piloting VMS Eve, the three-hour flight was also a chance for engineers to run extended tests on Unity at high altitude and subzero temperatures – something not possible on suborbital rocket-powered test flights.

Such captive flights will be repeated a number of times as Virgin Galactic goes into the final phase of its flight test program. After the operations and flight crews have familiarized themselves with the airspace and ground control, they will proceed to glide tests of SpaceShipTwo ahead of rocket-powered test flights and then the final spaceship cabin and customer experience evaluations.

SpaceShipTwo Unity relocates to Virgin Galactic’s Gateway to Space, Spaceport America, New Mexico
SpaceShipTwo Unity relocates to Virgin Galactic’s Gateway to Space, Spaceport America, New Mexico

Despite the relocation, the company says that the spacecraft and its mothership will periodically return to the Mojave facility for vehicle maintenance and upgrades, and to support the testing of new spaceplanes currently being built.

"This truly is the dawn of a new era for the commercial space sector," says Dan Hicks, Spaceport America’s Executive Director. "We are tremendously proud of our foundational partner Virgin Galactic – as we see and support their historic progress in making human space flight a reality for our beautiful world. The New Mexico and Spaceport America leadership will continue our strong support for our visionary Virgin Galactic teammates, and we are looking forward to an exciting 2020."

Source: Virgin Galactic

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4 comments
seewind
very cool. looking forward to the reactions of paying customers.
nick101
Well, we'll see. It's beginning to look like a bit of a scam; how much will it cost to see "the edge of space"? They aren't really saying, but I'm betting it'll be anti-climatic and they better have an open bar!
buzzclick
The build up of this Virgin Galactic space plane has been going on for years now. My interests begin with design, and I still find the whole concept flaky-looking, with it's cheese-hole windows and triple fusilage, but people with deep pockets get to do and say what they want. I am definitely not a fan of (Sir) Richard Branson.
KrakaTaoJones
@buzzclick: In addition to not being a fan of Richard Branson, you're also unfamiliar, apparently, with Burt Rutan and his revolutionary aeronautical designs. What you're calling a "flaky-looking" design with "cheese-hole windows" is cutting-edge design and it is not a "triple fuselage" aircraft. There are, in fact, two fuselages on the mothership, and the craft between them is the actual spaceplane being slung beneath the mothership's wing. All of that could have been clearly understood given a more careful reading of the article.