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VIRGIN GALACTIC

VSS Unity Flies test ok

With the exception of the rocket motor fuel grain, called the CTN (Case-Throat-Nozzle), the Vss Unity flew with all the spaceship's principle propulsion components on-board and live. 

This was Unity’s sixth glide test and essentially a dry run for rocket-powered flights.  VMS Eve was piloted by Nicola Pecile and Mike Masucci with flight test engineer Dustin Mosher. Pilots Dave Mackay and CJ Sturckow were at Unity’s controls with a test card which kept them fully occupied as they expanded the speed and load envelope, put the vehicle into the feathered reentry configuration, and evaluated flying with an increased weight and rearward shift in the center-of-gravity for landing.

 

With the exception of the rocket motor fuel grain, called the CTN (Case-Throat-Nozzle), they flew with all the spaceship’s principle propulsion components on-board and live.  This meant that Unity took off with her forward pressurant tank loaded with helium and for the first time, her centrally positioned Main Oxidizer Tank fully charged with nitrous oxide. In a repeat of the last flight, Unity also carried a ballast tank in the rear fuselage filled with 1000 lbs of water to simulate the weight and positioning of the CTN.

 

As planned, the pilots tested the venting of the nitrous tank while still mounted on the carrier aircraft.  The procedure proceeded smoothly, as Eve and Unity climbed past 40,000 feet and approached the drop point. After a clean separation from Eve and an approach-to-stall test, Unity’s tail-booms were raised into their re-entry position for the second time in flight. Once back into the normal glide configuration, the pilots used the descent to execute the remaining test points, including a high-g pull-up maneuver and bank-to-bank rolls. Unlike the previous glide test, the water ballast in the rear tank was not jettisoned, allowing them to test the spaceship’s  performance with a heavier landing weight and a center-of-gravity towards the back of the vehicle.

 

Moreover, the day before, the US Department of State approved the Virgin Galactic/Italian Technology Assistance Agreement (TAA).   «This TAA will allow us to work together Italian Space Agency to determine the feasibility and to develop a strategic plan for Virgin Galactic operations from an Italian spaceport» commented Richal DalBello, Virginia Galactic’s Vicepresident.

 

Source: Virgin Galactic