Virgin Galactic Spaceship Completes First Glide Flight at New Mexico

The company declared the flight on social media and shared photographs of this craft on the runway and members of this team stationed far apart around the special carrier plane that ferries the smaller spaceship to high altitude.

After years of testing and development in Mojave Air & Space Port in Mojave, California, Virgin Galactic is close to beginning real operations at its autonomous terminal and hangar in southern New Mexico. The business has not set a date for its initial commercial flights but has said it anticipates doing so in 2020.

A small number of test flights are needed before Virgin Galactic can take paying customers on supersonic thrill rides to the lower reaches of space to experience a few minutes of weightlessness and a view of the Earth below. The suborbital flights will reach an altitude of 50 miles (80.5 kilometers) prior to the spaceship glides to a landing.

The company considered Friday’s flight a significant achievement that has been in the works because the spaceship and carrier airplane relocated to New Mexico in February.

The flight provided the first opportunity to check all of the elements required to fly the carrier aircraft and spaceship in slide configuration out of their new home base. Officials are now reviewing data accumulated during the exercise so they can prepare for the next test flight.

The spaceship attained a slide speed of Mach 0.70 since the pilots conducted a set of maneuvers to check handling and aerodynamics and also to get more comfortable with the New Mexico airspace.

Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides congratulated his team on hitting the milestone, especially during such challenging times.

‘I am thankful for the dedication displayed by everyone involved, not only in helping to support relief efforts in the New Mexico and California, but also for the dedication and imagination that will allow us to continue safely towards our goal of commercial launching,” he explained.

While many employees have been working remotely throughout the pandemic, members of the Virgin Galactic staff have been helping with relief efforts. They have donated foods, masks, gloves and other medical supplies to communities and hospitals in New Mexico and California.

The business also has made donations of over $60,000 in New Mexico and is focusing on developing oxygen hoods that may potentially help COVID-19 patients.

“We are pursuing kind of an all-hands-on-deck plan here where we’re really trying to assist wherever we could,” Whitesides said.

Company officials are getting ready to release their first-quarter results Tuesday.

Over 600 customers from around the globe have put down deposits for flights, and roughly 8,000 bookings of curiosity have been made because of the successful test flight into space in December 2018. Company officials anticipate that interest to surpass the organization’s capacity for flights for the next few years.

The first seats were sold at $250,000 apiece. Those who wish to enroll interest online are paying a fully refundable deposit of $1,000.

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