For the first time, Virgin Galactic has reached space! At least, according to one of the definitions of this concept. The VSS Unity suborbital space liner (a SpaceShipTwo class spaceplane) reached a maximum altitude of 82.7 km during a test flight over the Mojave Desert on December 13.
This is above the 80-kilometer border, after which NASA is given the title of astronaut, but below the Karman line (100 km). Recall that the last limit was used for the target height in the Ansari X Prize, for which they offered a reward of $ 10 million. In 2004, the prize went to SpaceShipOne, whose design at Virgin Galactic was adapted for VSS Unity and other manned space liners 6 passengers.
VSS Unity was launched into the air on an aircraft carrier from an air and space port in Mojave. He was dropped at an altitude of 15,000 m, after which the pilots launched a rocket engine. It took 60 seconds to burn, allowing the vehicle to accelerate to a maximum speed of 2.9 Mach (2.9 times the speed of sound). Then the unit landed safely on the runway. This is the fourth test flight after the official presentation of the project in February 2016. The remaining three flights were conducted in April, May and July 2018, raising the VSS Unity to an altitude of 25.7 km, 34.9 km and 52 km). When the device starts to work fully, it will be able to guarantee short trips to the suborbital space at $ 250,000 per ticket. Such missions will allow you to plunge into a few minutes of weightlessness and admire the curvature of the Earth against the background of cosmic darkness.
The carrier aircraft company Virgin Galactic takes off with the SpaceShipTwo spacecraft from the air and space port of Mojave. This is the fourth test flight of a passenger space plane, performed on December 13, 2018
If VSS Unity becomes a full-fledged vehicle, then humanity will be able to get closer to relatively inexpensive and affordable trips to the suborbital space much faster. VSS Unity - the second ship of the company, since the first crashed during a test flight on October 31, 2014. In this tragic event killed the co-pilot Michael Alsbury.