SpaceShipTwo Makes Longest Flight to Date
The new test has been overseen by Scaled Composites, the company that is also in charge with manufacturing the craft for Virgin Galactic. More such test flights are planned for the near future, as Virgin Galactic intends to place the space ship into orbit as soon as possible.
"Looks like another good day for the Scaled team as we move through the test program," George Whitesides, Virgin Galactic CEO was quoted as saying by Space.com.
SpaceShipTwo is a spacecraft which will launch horizontally at 50,000 feet (15 km) from the underbelly of carrier airplane WhiteKnightTwo. Through this maneuver, the craft will bypass the denser regions of the atmosphere and save fuel and money. It can carry six passengers and two crew, measures 60 feet in length (18 meters) and features a bullet-shaped cylinder as a cabin.
Scaled will build the space ship from carbon composite, four times the strength of steel and a quarter of its weight. SpaceShipTwo is powered by a hybrid rocket motor which uses solid fuel (rubber compound) and liquid oxidizer (Nitrous Oxide), a solution which is said to be better than standalone liquid engines or solid motors.
When fully operational, SpaceShipTwo will be able to fly civilians into space and back, becoming the first commercial machine to do so.