On Sept. 5, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo (SS2) “Enterprise” successfully carried out its second supersonic test flight, reaching a maximum altitude of 69,000 feet. The flight was notable as being the first test flight that included the entire flight profile, only at a lower altitude — in 2014, SS2 will launch fee-paying space tourists 360,000 ft (approx 68 miles) to the edge of space, an altitude known as the Kármán line. The flight appears to have been a complete success.
SS2 was dropped from an altitude of 46,000 ft from its mothership, WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) “Eve” and then the two test pilots fired up the Enterprise’s rocket, accelerating the spaceplane to Mach 1.43 (43 percent faster than the speed of sound). When the vehicle reached its maximum altitude, the pilots flipped the Enterprise’s tail into its unique “feathering” position that allows the vehicle to descend through the atmosphere in a controlled manner.
The video above combines video footage from the ground, tail, rear and from the perspective of Eve as the spaceship was dropped. The only real question remaining is: who wants to sponsor me $200,000 for a ticket to take this suborbital joyride?
Video credit: Virgin Galactic