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Virgin Galactic VSS Unity aces first glide flight

Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity spaceplane has this week completed its first successful glide flight test.

The flight was successfully completed at the hands of pilots Mark Stucky and Todd Ericsson alongside flight-test engineer Dustin Mosher.

During the 80-minute flight, the ground crew, mission control and the two pilots collected valuable data, including a ten minute long glide, that will aid the company in future flights.e

The company has stated in a press release that they haven’t yet reached the rocket-powered phase of the programme and would first need to correlate and analyse the data they’ve collected.

Virgin Galactic’s latest VSS Unity flight is the first gliding test for the spaceplane

“As expected, for this first gliding test flight, VSS Unity was flying light and slow, achieving a maximum speed of approximately Mach 0.6 while gliding home from an altitude of 50 000 feet,” wrote the firm in a blog post.

“An initial look at the data as well as feedback from our two pilots indicate that today’s flight went extremely well, but we’ll take the time to properly and thoroughly analyse the vehicle’s performance before clearing the vehicle for our next test.”

“We’re looking forward to getting back into the skies as soon as the engineers say we are ready to do so,” the company concluded.

The flight marks the first time that a Virgin Galactic spaceplane conducted a glide flight since the fatal SpaceShipTwo crash in 2014.