For the first time in more than six months, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo flew on Tuesday, albeit not under rocket power. The vehicle made its 29th glide flight, with pilots Michael Masucci and Pete Siebold at the controls. Virgin didn’t disclose the purpose of the flight beyond being part of the company’s overal test program. “As the world’s first commercial spaceline, we’re committed to conducting a thorough test flight program” for SS2 and its carrier aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo, the company said in a tweet.
The flight was the first time SS2 flew since a glide flight on January 17, according to the flight test logs maintained by Scaled Composites. SS2 has made three powered test flights, most recently on January 10. Since then, the company has changed the fuel used in the hybrid rocket motor in SS2, switching from a rubber-based fuel to a nylon one.
There have also been a couple personnel additions at Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company (TSC), the Virgin-owned venture that builds the vehicles. On July 24, Virgin announced it had hired a new pilot, Todd “Leif” Ericson, a former US Air Force test pilot. And on Wednesday, Virgin announced that former Scaled president Doug Shane is now the president of TSC. Shane joined TSC last year as executive vice president and general manager; the reason for the position change wasn’t indicated.
The release offered one other item about Virgin’s efforts: work on the second SS2 vehicle is now “roughly 50%” complete.