A protracted-awaited rocket-powered flight over the southern New Mexico desert on Saturday was a lot shorter thanand its founder, Richard Branson, have been hoping for.
The corporate’s WhiteKnightTwo plane took off fromat 7:24 a.m. PT (8:24 a.m. MT), carrying the passenger spacecraft SpaceShipTwo Unity. The pair then spent about 45 minutes climbing to launch altitude at greater than 40,000 ft (12,192 meters).
About 50 minutes after takeoff, a livestream from NASASpaceflight.com appeared to indicate Unity separating and its rocket engine firing for almost a second earlier than shutting down early.
“The ignition sequence for the rocket motor didn’t full,” the corporate reported in a while Twitter. “Automobile and crew are in nice form. Now we have a number of motors prepared at Spaceport America. We are going to examine the automobile and be again to flight quickly.”
Unity glided again for a touchdown at Spaceport America, and the corporate confirmed that every one pilots and autos are protected and safe.
After years of growth and delays attributable to aand now the , the corporate’s hope to ship Branson after which paying prospects to area by 2020 had already been dashed even earlier than this aborted check flight.
Virgin has accomplished powered check flights from California. But it surely goals to carry out two check flights from its business dwelling base in New Mexico earlier than Branson lastly will get to take the joyride he is been ready (and paying) for for the reason that firm’s founding in 2004.
Saturday’s flight was additionally carrying some small payloads for NASA. It isn’t but clear when the corporate will attempt once more.