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Virgin Galactic's newest space plane has taken to the skies again.
The suborbital SpaceShipTwo vehicle, known as VSS Unity, completed its second-ever powered test flight today (May 29), soaring high over California's Mojave Desert.
Two-pilot - SpaceShipTwo - Carrier - Aircraft - WhiteKnightTwo
The two-pilot, six-passenger SpaceShipTwo is hauled aloft by a carrier aircraft known as WhiteKnightTwo and then is dropped from an altitude of about 50,000 feet (15,000 m). The space plane then engages its onboard rocket motor to blast itself upward.
Today's mission was the 13th flight overall for VSS Unity, which was unveiled in February 2016. Four have been "captive-carry" tests, in which the space plane remained attached to WhiteKnightTwo, and seven have been unpowered "glide flights." The other powered test flight occurred on April 5.
VSS - Unity - Virgin - Galactic - WhiteKnightTwo
VSS Unity is carried aloft by Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo aircraft on May 29, 2018.
That was a huge milestone for Virgin Galactic; it was the first powered mission since Oct. 31, 2014, when the company's previous SpaceShipTwo, VSS Enterprise, broke apart midflight. The tragic accident killed co-pilot Michael Alsbury and seriously injured pilot Peter Siebold.
Investigators - Design - Issue - Alsbury - SpaceShipTwo
Investigators later determined that a design issue allowed Alsbury to unlock SpaceShipTwo's "feathering" descent system prematurely. Engineers addressed that problem before building VSS Unity, Virgin Galactic representatives have said.
The only people aboard Unity during...
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