SpaceShipTwo makes its first glide flight

SS2 first glide test

SpaceShipTwo during its first glide test on October 10, 2010. (credit: Mark Greenberg/Virgin Galactic)

In a press release this afternoon, Virgin Galactic declared the glide test this morning by SpaceShipTwo a success. The WhiteKnightTwo aircraft VMS Eve released SpaceShipTwo (VSS Enterprise) at an altitude of 45,000 feet (13,700 meters), and SS2 glided to a landing at Mojave Air and Space Port 11 minutes later, shortly after 8 am PDT (11 am EDT). Pete Siebold piloted SS2 with Mike Alsbury as co-pilot; Sieblod, in the release, declared SS2 “a real joy to fly”.

Some details about the flight test activities from the press release:

Other detailed objectives of the flight were successfully completed, including; verification that all systems worked prior and following the clean release of Enterprise; initial evaluation of handling and stall characteristics; qualitative evaluation of stability and control of SS2 against predictions from design and simulation work; verification of performance by evaluating the lift-to-drag ratio of the spaceship during glide flight; practice a landing approach at altitude and finally descend and land.

Virgin also used the flight test to announce a four-part documentary series with the National Geographic Channel about the development of SpaceShipTwo. The first part will air next Monday, October 18, at 10 pm EDT/PDT to cover the work leading to Sunday’s glide test. Later parts of the documentary, according to the announcement, “will include SpaceShipTwo’s first rocket-powered flight; following Rutan, Branson and his two children as they make preparations for their historic flight; and being there as the spaceliner’s first passengers take their incredible trip.”

Finally, a picture below showing the release of SS2. Look carefully at the pylon between the fuselages of WK2 where SS2 was mounted. Have a nice flight?

SS2 immediately after release from WK2

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