VSS unit in space over New Mexico Virgo Galactic
After some stumbling, Virgin Galactic succeeded in the third test flight of its new spaceplane, which will be available for flights in space tourism in the future.
The VSS Unity, one of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo models, was launched from Spaceport American in New Mexico on Saturday, May 22nd. VSS Unity is carried up by a mothership, VMS Eve, from which it was released and reached a speed of Mach 3. Unity was piloted by CJ Sturckow and Dave Mackay and reached an altitude of 55.45 miles. Then he slid back to Earth and landed on a runaway in Spaceport America.
Virgin Galactic shared a video of the unit being freed from the mothership and gaining altitude. You can see it slide along the very edge of space:
This was the first time a manned spaceflight took off from this spaceport. “Fifteen years ago, New Mexico embarked on a journey to create the world’s first commercial spaceport,” said Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic. ” Today we launched the first human space flight from this very location, marking an important milestone for Virgin Galactic and New Mexico. I’m proud of the team for their hard work, and grateful to the people in New Mexico who have been steadfast in advocating commercial space travel from day one. Their faith and support made today’s historic achievement possible. “
The previous test flight of the VSS Unity in December last year did not reach space when the engines failed during the flight. No one was injured and the vehicle landed safely, but the incident raised concerns about the safety of passengers – especially given that it is believed to be a space tourism vehicle.
There is also a surprising debate about whether reaching this altitude is actually considered space travel. One of the most common definitions for the boundary between our planet’s atmosphere and space is the Kármán line, which is defined as 100 kilometers above sea level. However, the US Air Force and NASA use a different definition of space launch at 50 miles above sea level. Both of these boundaries are rather arbitrary, as there is no clear demarcation between the external atmosphere and the room.
Whether people flying in a Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo have actually been in space depends on who you ask. The highest altitude this spacecraft reached is 56 miles in February 2019, which is between the two definitions. Because of this, some people will refer to Virgin Galactic’s planes as journeys into space, while others will say they are approaching the limit of space.