The test flight on Wednesday marked another milestone in Virgin Galactic’s effort to be the first company to carry tourists into space.
“What an awesome way to start the day. SpaceShipTwo looked positively beautiful today on her maiden feathered flight!” Will Pomerantz, Virgin Galactic vice president for special projects, said in a tweet.
During the test, SpaceShipTwo did not fire its rocket engine for a climb into space. Instead, a mother ship lifted it to 16 000m where it was released. It then rotated its twin tail booms upward 65°, Virgin Galactic said.
As SpaceShipTwo descended almost vertically through the sky, it was slowed by the drag of the folded tail, similar to the way feathers slow a badminton shuttlecock. The reconfiguration will be a critical part of the spaceship’s descent through Earth’s atmosphere after suborbital trips into space.
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