SpaceShipTwo Glide Tests Progressing Smoothly

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SpaceShipTwo glides downward on its first test flight. (Photo: Mark Greenberg)

Leonard David has a report on SpaceShipTwo testing in Mojave, which is going swimmingly:

“Another good flight test for the program, on a beautiful Mojave morning,” said George Whitesides, Virgin Galactic’s CEO.

“This is what Scaled is so good at: flying, testing, and learning in a rapid cycle of innovation. The high flight rate is a positive indication of the vehicles’ ability to fly frequently and safely,” he told SPACE.com.

SpaceShipTwo testing is headed for a quiet period starting in July, as the Scaled team analyzes the data from the test flight program to date.

“This summer Scaled will be going through the data to make sure they apply any important lessons … to the next phase of test flights,” Whitesides said. “We’re proceeding with the diverse set of tasks required to set up the spaceline, from planning spaceport operations to customer training procedures to ongoing business development.”

…On the future flight manifest is a test run using a hybrid motor mounted within SpaceShipTwo. That powerhouse engine is being crafted by Sierra Nevada Corp. Short bursts to ever-longer burns of the motor in-flight are being planned, with the date of the first in-flight firing of the motor still to be determined.

The VSS Enterprise test flight program will continue through 2011.

Recent SpaceShipTwo Glide Flights
(Via Scaled Composites)

Flight: 67 / GF14
Date: 23 Jun 11 Flight Time: 7 min, 33 sec
SS2 Pilot: Stucky SS2 CoPilot: Nichols
GS Crew: Tighe, Verderame, Persall, Bassett, Glaser, Reid, Knupp, Inks

Objectives:
Continued mach and airspeed flutter susceptibility envelope expansion

Results:

All objectives achieved.


Flight: 66 / GF13
Date: 21 Jun 11 Flight Time: 8 min, 55 sec
SS2 Pilot: Siebold SS2 CoPilot: Nichols
GS Crew: Tighe, Persall, Verderame, Bassett, Glaser, Reid, Knupp, Inks

Objectives:
Continued flutter susceptibility envelope expansion

Results:
All objectives achieved.


Flight: 65 / GF12
Date: 15 Jun 11 Flight Time: 10 min, 32 sec
SS2 Pilot: Stucky SS2 CoPilot: Nichols
GS Crew: Bassett, Reid, Glaser, Binnie, Keller, Tighe, Inks, Kelley, Bozarth

Objectives:
Continued flutter susceptibility envelope expansion

Results:
All objectives achieved. Second flight in 24 hours!


Flight: 64 / GF11
Date: 14 Jun 11 Flight Time: 13 min, 18 sec
SS2 Pilot: Siebold SS2 CoPilot: Shane
GS Crew: Nichols, Bassett, Kalogiannis, Reid, Glaser, Keller, Tighe, Inks

Objectives:
Flutter susceptibility envelope expansion

Results:
All objectives achieved.

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