“Virgin Galactic’s historic, first spaceflight, was a wonderful way for our dedicated and talented teams to close 2018. But now, with the rocket motor from that flight on show at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and our first space pilots proudly wearing their FAA Commercial Astronaut Wings, we are getting ready to return VSS Unity to the black skies.
With the usual caveats that apply to all test flights, and with the added uncertainties of weather at this time of year in Mojave, the window for our fifth supersonic powered test flight opens tomorrow, Wednesday 20 February.
Although we passed a major milestone in December, we still have a way to go in testing the many factors that can affect a flight. So, for this flight, we will be expanding the envelope to gather new and vital data essential to future tests and operations, including vehicle center of gravity.
We are proud to be flying NASA Flight Opportunity program research payloads again. The spaceship will be a little heavier than last time, and very close to a full commercial weight.
We are now at the stage where we can confirm some of the aspects of the customer cabin and this will be a continuing theme as we enter this final stage of flight test. It is of paramount importance to our future business success that we not only give our future astronauts a safe ride, but an experience which exceeds expectations. We know, as part of a Group that has led the way in commercial aviation customer experience, cabin design is fundamental to that objective and so this element is an integral part of our flight test program.
As we prepare for this next flight, we do so with meticulous care and great attention to detail. As always, there are no guarantees that everything will go to plan or work perfectly and the team’s overriding priority is always to bring crew and spaceship home safely. Whether we complete all our objectives during the next flight or not, we remain committed to completing the final stages of flight test as quickly, but more importantly as safely, as possible.”