I was thrilled to be on the Mojave Air and Space Port flight line to witness this latest milestone. The motor burned again for a planned 31 seconds, sending Unity into a faster and higher climb than before, achieving a speed of Mach 1.9 - almost twice the speed of sound - and an altitude of 114,500 feet. Unity’s unique re-entry feathering system was deployed for the initial descent before the final glide home to a smooth runway landing.
It was great to see our beautiful spaceship back in the air so soon after her last flight and to share the moment with the talented team who are taking us, step by step, to space. We saw VSS Unity in her natural environment, flying fast under rocket power and with a nose pointing firmly towards the black sky of space.
Seeing Unity soar upwards at supersonic speeds is inspiring and absolutely breathtaking. It was a real pleasure to greet the VSS Unity pilots Dave Mackay and Mark Stucky and WhiteKnightTwo pilots CJ Sturckow and Nicola Pecile as they returned to land, and congratulate them and all the team on another job well done. I was unable to attend the first powered flight, so it felt extra special being there for another supersonic test.
This flight was less than two months after Unity’s first rocket powered flight. Considering the extensive task of data analysis and planning required between flights, this quick turnaround is really encouraging for the months ahead. Once we get to commercial service, our spaceships will be turned around and flown at an unprecedented rate, so it’s great to see the progress being made by the team. The pathway Unity’s forging will be one that many thousands of us will take and over time, will help create a profound impact on the way we deal with some of our toughest challenges here on planet Earth.
Head over to Virgin Galactic for more details about the focus of our latest test flight, and look out for some stunning video footage coming soon. We are getting ever closer to realising our goals. Congratulations to the whole team!