Der Start der "New Shepard" ist gerade gründlich daneben gegangen. 67 Sekunden nach dem Abheben in 10* km Höhe hat die Rettungsrakete gezündet & die Kapsel in Sicherheit gebracht. RSS H. G. Wells, Start nr. 23, unbemannt, mit 36 Nutzlasten, sollte bis auf 100 km steigen.
Abschlußbericht der Untersuchung heute veröfentlicht.
Zitat Marcia Smith@SpcPlcyOnline Blue Origin has just released details of the New Shepard failure last year. Here's their summary.
All the payloads were recovered OK and will be flown again on the next flight "soon." 5:07 PM · Mar 24, 2023
The direct cause of the NS-23 mishap was a thermo-structural failure of the engine nozzle. The resulting thrust misalignment properly triggered the Crew Capsule escape system, which functioned as designed throughout the flight. The Crew Capsule and all payloads onboard landed safely and will be flown again. All systems designed to protect public safety functioned as planned. There were no injuries. There was no damage to ground-based systems, and all debris was recovered in the designated hazard area. Blue Origin expects to return to flight soon, with a re-flight of the NS-23 payloads.
TECHNICAL DETAILS The NS-23 mishap resulted in the loss of NS Propulsion Module Tail 3. The Crew Capsule escape system worked as designed, bringing the capsule and its payloads to a safe landing at Launch Site One with no damage. As part of the response to the Crew Capsule escape, the Propulsion Module commanded shutdown of the BE-3PM engine and followed an unpowered trajectory to impact within the defined flight safety analysis prediction, resulting in no danger to human life or property. Public safety was unaffected by the mishap, and no changes to crew safety system designs were recommended as a result of the investigation.
"Les hommes seront toujours fous; et ceux qui croient les guérir sont les plus fous de la bande." - Voltaire
Zitat Virgin Orbit fails to secure funding, will cease operations and lay off 90% of workforce
Published Thu, Mar 30 20235:08 PM EDT Updated 9 Min Ago
Virgin Orbit is ceasing operations “for the foreseeable future” after failing to secure a funding lifeline, CEO Dan Hart told employees during an all-hands meeting on Thursday afternoon, and will layoff about 90% of its workforce. “Unfortunately we’ve not been able to secure the funding to provide a clear path for this company,” Hart said, according to audio of the 5 p.m. ET meeting obtained by CNBC. “We have no choice but to implement immediate, dramatic, and extremely painful changes,” Hart said, audibly choking up on the call, adding that this would “probably the hardest all-hands that we’ve ever done in my life.”
The company will eliminate all but 100 positions, Hart noted, with the layoffs affecting “every” team and department. Virgin Orbit will “provide a severance package for every departing” employee, Hart said, with a cash payment, extension of benefits, and support in finding a new position – with a “direct pipeline” set up with sister company Virgin Galactic for hiring.
Hart has been giving the company’s employees brief daily updates since Monday, when Virgin Orbit last minute delayed a scheduled all-hands meeting to Thursday. Late-stage deal talks had fallen through with a pair of investors over the weekend, but Hart told staff on Monday that “very dynamic” investment discussions were continuing. Those investor discussions continued this week – with Hart saying leadership would share any updates “as quickly and transparently as we can,” noting that leaking emails “is against company policy,” according to copies of Hart’s emails from Tuesday and Wednesday obtained by CNBC.
The company this week has steadily been bringing back more of its over 750 employees from the operational pause and furlough it began on Mar. 15, after initially resuming some work with a “small team” on Mar. 22. Amid the broader pause, Virgin Orbit has been working to finish its investigation into the mid-flight failure of its previous launch, as well as finish preparations on its next rocket.
Shareholders poured out of the stock in extended trading, with shares selling off nearly 30% after the announcement. Virgin Orbit stock closed at 34 cents a share on Thursday, having fallen 82% since the beginning of the year.
Virgin Orbit developed a system that uses a modified 747 jet to send satellites into space by dropping a rocket from under the aircraft’s wing mid-flight. But the company’s last mission suffered a mid-flight failure, with an issue during the launch causing the rocket to not reach orbit and crash into the ocean.
The company has been looking for new funds for several months, with majority owner Sir Richard Branson unwilling to fund the company further.
Zitat SpaceX may launch Starship orbital test flight next week: reports
By Mike Wall published about 16 hours ago
The landmark flight could lift off as early as April 10.
SpaceX's giant Starship Mars rocket could attempt to go orbital for the first time as soon as next week.
SpaceX is developing Starship to carry people and cargo to the moon, Mars and beyond. The deep-space transportation system consists of a huge first-stage booster called Super Heavy and an upper-stage spacecraft known as Starship, both of which are designed to be fully reusable.
For months now, SpaceX has been gearing up for the first-ever Starship orbital test flight, which will be carried out by the Super Heavy prototype Booster 7 and a Starship vehicle called Ship 24.
In mid-March, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk said that the landmark flight, from SpaceX's Starbase facility in South Texas, might launch as soon as the third week of April. But recent developments suggest that the attempt could come even sooner than that.
For example, SpaceX rolled Ship 24 out to Starbase's orbital launch pad (opens in new tab) over the weekend, multiple Starship watchers have observed. And on Monday (April 3), the company conducted fueling tests with Booster 7 (opens in new tab) on the orbital launch mount, with Ship 24 on the ground nearby.
In addition, navigational warnings have been issued for the Starship orbital attempt, as Netherlands-based satellite tracker Marco Langbroek noted (opens in new tab). Those warnings cover a window of April 6 to April 12.
It doesn't appear that SpaceX will try to hit the first part of that proposed window. For starters, the company is still waiting for a launch license from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, as Musk said last month.
But April 10 or April 11 look like real possibilities, according to Ars Technica's Eric Berger.
NASA is apparently tentatively reserving "the use of its high-altitude WB-57 aircraft for observations of the Starship test flight on April 10 and 11," Berger wrote over the weekend. "The agency is closely tracking SpaceX's progress with the massive rocket, as it intends to use the Starship vehicle as a lunar lander for its astronauts as part of the Artemis moon missions."
Zitat von April 4, 2023Virgin Orbit formally enters bankruptcy, seeking a buyer
Branson further cements his position as a "senior" creditor.
Virgin Orbit announced Tuesday morning that it has filed for bankruptcy in the US District of Delaware. The cash-strapped launch company said it views bankruptcy as the best means of selling itself.
"At this stage, we believe that the Chapter 11 process represents the best path forward to identify and finalize an efficient and value-maximizing sale,” said Dan Hart, CEO of Virgin Orbit, in a statement.
The best outcome for the California-based company would be to find a buyer willing to continue Virgin's launch business. Through the bankruptcy process, the company could shed some of its debt and possibly emerge as a leaner business serving a segment of the market seeking dedicated launch on a responsive vehicle.
However, the more likely path is probably the wholesale selling off of the company's business and assets, as in recent weeks Virgin Orbit has been unable to find a buyer willing to continue its operations. While there was a public flirtation with a Texas-based investor named Matthew Brown, it was never clear that he was a serious bidder or had the funds to save Virgin Orbit. He probably did not.
Over the last decade Virgin Orbit—first as a subsidiary of Virgin Galactic, and then as a separate company—assembled a talented base of engineers and technicians who built an air-based launch system and a liquid-fueled rocket called LauncherOne. Four of the company's six launch attempts were successful, and the company's technical work was quite good.
However, according to longtime employees, Virgin Orbit lacked a sense of urgency. This was most evident in the fact that Virgin Orbit expended about $1 billion developing its launch system, which is an extraordinary amount of money for a small rocket that could only launch a few hundred kilograms into low-Earth orbit. It was difficult to see how the business case could close.
Zitat von Ulrich Elkmann im Beitrag #328 The landmark flight could lift off as early as April 10.
Zitat Stephen Clark@StephenClark1 SpaceX has penciled in a target launch date of April 10 for its Super Heavy/Starship orbital test flight, pending technical readiness and an FAA launch license, per multiple sources familiar with scheduling.
An FAA spokesperson says the April 10 date's appearance on the agency's ops plan advisory "should not be interpreted as an indicator that a determination to issue a license has been made or is forthcoming" for the SpaceX Super Heavy/Starship orbital test flight. 12:18 AM · Apr 5, 2023
Maiden flight of the two-stage Starship launch vehicle. The booster will separate 170 seconds into flight and return to land approximately 32 km off the shore in the Gulf of Mexico. The second stage will achieve orbit until performing a powered, targeted splashdown approximately 100 km off the northwest coast of Kauai (Hawaii).
Rocket Starship – SpaceX Family: Starship Length: 120 m Diameter: 9 m Launch Mass: 5000 T Low Earth Orbit Capacity: 100000 kg The Starship was manufactured by SpaceX with the first launch on [---]. Starship has 0 successful launches and 0 failed launches with a total of 0 launches. Fully reusable two-stage super heavy-lift launch vehicle.
Location Orbital Launch Mount A SpaceX Space Launch Facility, TX, USA 9 rockets have launched from SpaceX Space Launch Facility, TX, USA. 25°59'49.6"N 97°09'18.1"W
Countdown: D 05 HR 01 MIN 05 SEC 25
"Les hommes seront toujours fous; et ceux qui croient les guérir sont les plus fous de la bande." - Voltaire
Noch zum Thema "Start nächste Woche": Die JUICE-Mission zum Jupiter von Kourou aus.
Zitat ESA's JUICE mission@ESA_JUICE·2h 8️⃣ days to launch! #ESAJuice meets #Ariane5 🛰️🚀😍 Juice has been transferred to the final assembly building and attached to the launcher!
First #ESAJuice was placed on an air cushion platform to enable the transfer to the final assembly building. The operators wore bright yellow suits for this task; these are used whenever hazardous operations are carried out, for example when a spacecraft is moved.
Then #ESAJuice was put into a 'clean room on wheels' that was used to transfer the spacecraft to the final assembly building.
After reaching the final assembly building, #ESAJuice was gently manoeuvred out of the 'clean room on wheels'.
Then #ESAJuice was lifted up off of the air cushion platform, over 50 metres into the air...
...before being gently lowered onto the top of the @Ariane5 rocket that will carry it into space 🚀 10:45 AM · Apr 5, 2023
Booster und Starship sind gerade in Boca Chica aufeinandergesetzt worden.
Zitat Chris Bergin - NSF @NASASpaceflight Ship 24 - in the arms of Mechazilla's chopsticks - is about to join Booster 7 to become a full-stack again.
Chris Bergin - NSF Retweeted
Zitat Alejandro Alcantarilla Romera (Alex)@Alexphysics13·46m The business end of Ship 24 with three Raptor 2 engines and three Raptor 2 Vacuum engines. Hopefully these will carry Starship into space and all the way to Hawaii not long from now
Ship 24 is now over Booster 7 for stacking. Ship quick disconnect arm has swung into place as well in preparation for mating.
We're back to a full-stack Starship! The world's most powerful rocket, hoping to launch this month. 3:59 PM · Apr 5, 2023
Zitat Eric Berger@SciGuySpace SpaceX completed stacking of its Starship vehicle onto the Super Heavy booster this morning. Unfortunately, two sources say April 10 is no longer on the table as a launch date. In other words, there will be no Ten-Hop. 4:06 PM · Apr 5, 2023
Zitat How Virgin Orbit’s bankruptcy will impact Spaceport Cornwall and the future of UK space launches
The collapse of Sir Richard Branson’s satellite-launching business leaves Newquay with no rocket partners and highlights challenges for his separate space tourism venture
From a business perspective, however, they tell i that Virgin Orbit may have been financially doomed from the start – racking up giant bills despite equally huge uncertainty over whether there would ever be enough customers, paying sufficient money for its services, to reach profit.
They argue the company’s implosion is a “cautionary tale” that may set alarm bells ringing at Virgin Galactic, could be hugely damaging for Spaceport Cornwall’s future, and suggests the UK needs a new strategy if it’s to become a player in the commercial rocket market.
Questions for Cornwall and California
When Virgin Orbit’s launch failed in January, it was the Spaceport Cornwall team who seemed to be suffering the most. “We’re feeling awful,” its head, Melissa Quinn, said at the time. “It’s gutting… There were tears and it was very upsetting.”
Is Virgin Orbit’s collapse now prompting similar despair? Branson’s firm was the spaceport’s sole launch partner, and as the facility – owned by Cornwall Council – purely caters for horizontal flights, it’s hard to see where its next flying customer will come from.
The only other firm to have carried out horizontal launches in the last 40 years is Northrup Grumman, whose Pegasus rocket became operational in 1990. It has a launch price of $40m, much less than the $67m cost of Space X’s vertical Falcon 9 – but Musk’s rocket “can lift 10 or 15 times more,” says Berger, which makes it much more economical."
That cost has made Pegasus “completely non-viable,” argues the author. “That rocket has flown once or twice in the last five years and is probably going to be retired… I don’t see any commercial horizontal launch company being successful, full stop. The market doesn’t seem to be there.”
This would also be a problem for Glasgow Prestwick Airport, which aims to become the “leading horizontal launch spaceport in Europe” with a goal of hosting its first commercial missions on the west coast of Scotland next year.
The team at Spaceport Cornwall say they are “saddened” about Virgin Orbit but insist its bankruptcy has “no direct impact to the team or project” in Newquay.
“Spaceport Cornwall continues to operate,” Quinn tells i, pledging to “grow the space cluster in Cornwall”.
She says the venture is “working directly with other launch operators worldwide” to meet their “current and future needs”. These potential partners include Sierra Space, the US manufacturer behind a new spaceplane intended to resupply the International Space Station. This craft, Dream Chaser, will be able to land horizontally, but significantly still needs to be launched vertically.
Quinn adds: “We are based at an active airport, and our focus extends beyond launch – we are opening a new facility to support global space and satellite businesses, all of whom will have access to our integration facility, R&D workspace and labs.”
Other British rocket companies and spaceports aspire to carry out vertical launches, but that won’t mean they can evade massive cost challenges.
“If the UK Government decides that it wants to have commercial space activity, particularly an independent launch capability, it is going to have to support one or more of these companies, either with guaranteed launch contracts or development funding,” says Berger. “These companies will not survive on commercial satellite launch contracts alone. They just won’t.”
Zitat Airbus Space @AirbusSpace Last earthly view 👀 of #ESAJuice before closing the Ariane 5 fairing. 👋 The Airbus-built spacecraft is set for launch 🚀 at 14:15 UTC +2 on 13 April from the @EuropeSpacePort in Kourou, French Guiana. ℹ️ @ESA_JUICE will spend 4 years studying Jupiter and its icy moons to figure out how plants form, how life emerges and how the solar system works. 2:16 PM · Apr 7, 2023
Zitat von April 10, 2023This weekend SpaceX engineers completed a final "flight readiness review" for the massive Super Heavy and Starship launch system, declaring the vehicle ready to make its debut test flight. SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced the decision early Sunday morning on Twitter, saying the vehicle was only "awaiting regulatory approval" before launching.
Presently, the company is targeting April 17, at 7 am local time in South Texas (12:00 UTC) for the integrated flight test of the launch system. It should be quite a show—the combination of the Super Heavy first stage and Starship upper stage is the largest and most powerful rocket ever built.
Sources said SpaceX has been working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration to provide the necessary data about Starship's performance and its impacts to the area surrounding the launch site. There is an expectation that a launch license will be issued this week, but there is no guarantee this will happen.
If SpaceX does target Monday, April 17, for liftoff from its Starbase facility in South Texas, the early indications are that launch site weather will be fair. At present there appears to be only very low rain chances and moderate surface-level winds.
Zitat SpaceX readying Starship rocket for around-the-world test flight as soon as next week
SpaceX said Tuesday it won’t perform a final countdown dress rehearsal this week for the giant new Starship launch vehicle, and could send the rocket — standing nearly 40 stories tall on its Texas launch pad — on an around-the-world test flight as soon as next week.
The launch is scheduled no earlier than Monday, April 17, but the schedule will depend on several factors, such as the completion of final checkouts on the rocket, weather conditions, and perhaps most visibly, the approval of a commercial launch license from the Federal Aviation Administration. ... “Teams are focused on launch readiness ahead of Starship’s first integrated flight test as soon as next week, pending regulatory approval,” SpaceX tweeted Tuesday.
The FAA has said the Starship launch date’s appearance on the agency’s operations website “should not be not be interpreted as an indicator that a determination to issue a license has been made or is forthcoming.
“The agency will only make a determination after SpaceX meets all safety and other regulatory requirements,” an FAA spokesperson said.
The FAA announced last year that it will require SpaceX to take more than 75 actions to reduce the environmental effects of flying its Starship rocket from South Texas. But not all of the mitigation steps are required before the FAA issues a commercial launch license to SpaceX for the first Starship orbital test flight.
Straßensperrungen run um Boca Chica für den 17. April; mit Ausweichdaten für den 18. und 19.
Zitat Amended Order Closing Boca Chica Beach and State Hwy 4; April 17, 2023 with alternative date of April 18, 2023 or April 19, 2023
"I have ordered the closure of Boca Chica Beach and Hwy 4 for the purpose of protecting Public Health and Safety during SpaceX flight acitvities on April 17, 2023, in the time period between 12:00 a.m. C.S.T. to 2:000 p.m. C.S.T., and in the alternative on APril 18, 2023 or April 19, 2023, from 12:00 a.m. C.S.T. to 2:00 p.m. C.S.T. of the same day. Should Space X not complete its planned space flight activities on April 17, 2023, then SpaceX may use the alternate dates to complete its test launch acitvities," Treviño said.
Zitat SpaceX @SpaceX Targeting as soon as Monday, April 17 for the first flight test of a fully integrated Starship and Super Heavy rocket from Starbase in Texas → http://spacex.com/launches 11:57 PM · Apr 14, 2023
Zitat 2. Purpose: This Order modifies License No. VOL 23-129 issued concurrently by the Federal Aviation Administration's Office of Commercial Space Transportation, authorizing Space Exploration Technologies Corp. to conduct launch of tis Starship-Super Heavy vehicle as identified in the license application; and prescribes as conditions to License VOL 23-129 certain requirements to launch.
4. Authorization: In accordance with the representations in the Space Exploration Technologies, Corp. application as of the date of this license, and any amendments to the license application or waivers approved by the FAA, in writing, Space Exploration Technologies, Corp. is authorized to conduct launch consisting of:
a. Pre-flight ground operations: i. Using the Starship-Super Heavy vehicle. ii. At SpaceX Boca Chica Launch Complex, Boca Chica, Texas. iii. To Gulf of Mexico and Pacific Ocean locations specified in its application. iv. For the first flight only, unless the license is modified to remove this term.
Zitat The Federal Aviation Administration approved a commercial license Friday for the first full-scale test flight of SpaceX’s nearly 400-foot-tall Super Heavy and Starship mega-rocket from South Texas, a launch SpaceX said could happen as soon as Monday morning.
“After a comprehensive license evaluation process, the FAA determined SpaceX met all safety, environmental, policy, payload, airspace integration and financial responsibility requirements,” the FAA said Friday. “The license is valid for five years.”
The launch license only covers the first test flight of the Super Heavy booster and Starship vehicle. Following the FAA’s launch license announcement Friday, SpaceX immediately tweeted it was targeting Monday morning for the test flight, with a two-and-a-half hour launch window opening at 7 a.m. CDT (8 a.m. EDT; 1200 UTC).
A cluster of 33 methane-fueled Raptor engines, each generating about a half-million pounds of thrust, will power the rocket off the pad for its inaugural test flight. The Super Heavy booster will burn its engines for 2 minutes and 49 seconds, then separate from the Starship upper stage. The booster will re-light its engines for a series of maneuvers to attempt a controlled splashdown about 20 miles (30 kilometers) off the coast of Texas.
Das Problem ist beim Herabkühlen der Brennkammern der Startstufe aufgetreten. Die 33 Raptor-2-Triebwerke werden durch flüssigen Treibstoff gekühlt, um ein Überhitzen zu vermeiden. Der Booster für Starship-Super Heavy verwendet als Treibstoff übrigens Methan anstatt von Wasserstoff.
Die beiden ersten Versuche eines Starts mit einer Methan-betriebenen Rakete sind in den letzten Monaten als Fehlschlag geeendet: zuerst die chinesische Zhuque-2 am 14. Dezember 2022, dann die Terran-1 von Relativity Space am 23. März.
Zitat Wie auch schon bei den Merlin-Triebwerken, benutzt SpaceX den Treib- und Sauerstoff in tief-kryogener Form (engl. deep cryo), womit gemeint ist, dass die Stoffe deutlich unter den Kondensationspunkt gekühlt werden, um eine höhere Energiedichte zu erhalten und so die Schubkraft der Triebwerke zu erhöhen. So wird beispielsweise Sauerstoff auf ungefähr −205 °C statt der für die Kondensation benötigten −182,9 °C gekühlt. Laut eigenen Angaben von SpaceX kann der Brennkammerdruck des Raptors durch diese Technik von ungefähr 250 bar auf 300 bar erhöht werden. Allerdings ist erst Raptor V2 dazu in der Lage tief-kryogenen Treibstoff effizient zu nutzen.
Zitat Elon Musk suggests SpaceX could potentially launch Starship to orbit on 4/20, pending FAA spaceflight license first launch attempt will be near end of third week of April, aka [also known as] …” he wrote via Twitter, suggesting that SpaceX could potentially launch Starship to orbit on 4/20 (April 20). The number is a joke about cannabis culture slang. Musk has often shared memes and made jokes on Twitter about those numbers, so space enthusiasts immediately assumed he meant '4/20' which is a date in the third week of April.
18. April 2023:
Zitat Jenny Hautmann @JennyHPhoto The next launch attempt for Starship will be on April 20th. The 62-minute window opens at 8:28 a.m. CT. 12:44 AM · Apr 18, 2023
Zitat von April 4, 2023Virgin Orbit formally enters bankruptcy, seeking a buyer
Heute war Versteigerung.
Zitat Virgin Orbit sells assets in bankruptcy auction to Rocket Lab, Stratolaunch and Vast’s Launcher
Bankrupt rocket company Virgin Orbit sold its assets and equipment to a trio of aerospace companies in an auction, according to a court filing released on Tuesday. The bids amount to about $36 million in total.
Rocket Lab successfully bid $16.1 million for the company’s “machinery & equipment and lease,” according to the filing, while Stratolaunch was awarded its $17 million “stalking horse” bid for Virgin Orbit’s 747 jet. Launcher, a subsidiary of Vast Space, is purchasing the company’s facility in Mojave, California —as well as some machinery, equipment and inventory — for $2.7 million.
Previously in the bankruptcy process, Virgin Orbit agreed to the terms of Stratolaunch’s bid, which was to purchase the 747 jet “Cosmic Girl” and other aircraft assets. Stratolaunch has been developig its own airborne system, the world’s largest airplane called “Roc,” as a platform for hypersonic flight testing.
Rocket Lab, zur Erinnerung, ist das amerikanische Startup, das seine Starts im Regelfall von Neuseeland aus durchführt (etwa mit dem Capstone-Mondsatelliten im letzten Jahr). In diesem Jahr haben sie bislang 4 Starts durgeführt (3 von NZ, 1 von Virginia, von bislang 36 erfolgreichen), der fünfte, der für gestern auf dem Programm stand, ist wegen Sturmwetter auf übermorgen verlegt worden. Ein Jumbojet für 17 Millionen ist übrigens ein absolutes Schnäppchen; der Listenpreis für eine Maschine (allerdings schlüsselfertig für Passagierbetrieb) liegt bei 418 Millionen USD; der gegenwärtige Marktwert beträgt ein Drittel davon. Das "and lease" meint natürlich die Weiternutzung des Werksageländes. Beide Montagewerke befinden sich in Long Beach, Kalifornien, zwischen den beiden Adressen 4022 E. Conant St. und 3881 McGowan St. liegen rund 1200 m. Das Werksgelände von Virgin Orbit hat eine Fläche von 16700 m².
"Les hommes seront toujours fous; et ceux qui croient les guérir sont les plus fous de la bande." - Voltaire
Aufgrund Verwechslungsgefahr: das war Virgin Orbit - mit der 747 als Startplattform für unbemannte, kleine Orbitalraketen.
Das hier ist Bransons anderes Raumfahrtstartup (kann man nach 19 Jahren noch "Startup" sagen?): Virgin Galactic.
Zitat Virgin Galactic makes first suborbital spaceflight in nearly two years - Jeff Foust May 25, 2023
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle flew to space for the first time in nearly two years May 25 on what the company projected to be the vehicle’s final test flight before commencing commercial operations.
Virgin Galactic’s “mothership” aircraft, VMS Eve, took off from the runway at Spaceport America in New Mexico at 11:16 a.m. Eastern. The takeoff occurred more than an hour behind a schedule provided by the company the day before, but the company did not disclose the reason for the delay.
Virgin Galactic released VSS Unity at 12:23 p.m. Eastern. The spaceplane appeared to perform a nominal burn of its hybrid rocket engine before descending to a runway landing back at Spaceport America nearly 15 minutes later. The company did not immediately disclose details about the flight, such as its peak altitude.
The flight, called Unity 25 by the company, was the first powered flight of SpaceShipTwo since July 2021, when the vehicle flew six people, including company founder Richard Branson. Both Unity and Eve went into extended maintenance periods after that flight and resumed test flights earlier this year, with Unity making a glide flight April 26. ... Virgin Galactic said before the flight that Unity 25 would be its final test before beginning commercial service. Its first commercial flight, called “Galactic 01”, is scheduled for as soon as late June carrying three mission specialists on a dedicated research flight for the Italian Air Force.
Company executives said on a May 9 earnings call that it planned to fly Unity on “regular intervals” after Galactic 01, primarily carrying private astronauts.
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