Virgin Galactic Steps Up Suborbital Testing

By Guy Norris
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology
September 16, 2013
Credit: Mark Greenberg

Scaled Composites aims to open up more of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo (SS2) supersonic flight envelope in the coming weeks, following the second successful rocket-powered test over Mojave, Calif., on Sept. 5.

The test, which reached Mach 1.43 and an apogee of 69,000 ft., included the first use of the tail-plane feathering reentry system on a powered flight, and at higher speed and altitude. The vehicle's Sierra Nevada RM2 solid rocket motor was also tested for a longer duration—firing for 20 sec., 4 sec. more than the first powered flight on April 29. Scaled says in addition to supersonic, aerodynamic flight-envelope expansion and evaluation of the feather, the flight also provided data on wing-lift structural performance during acceleration and the highly loaded vertical pull-up maneuver.

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