Earlier today Virgin Galactic’s second SpaceShipTwo (VSS Unity) completed its fifth glide flight above the skies on Mojave, California.
It did this as it rode on Virgin Galactic’s carrier aircraft WhiteKnightTwo, where it was dropped from for its latest trial. Virgin Galactic also performed four captive-carry tests, during which time the spacecraft was loaded with around 1,000 lbs of water in the ballast tank in order to move the spacecraft’s centre of gravity backwards, allowing them to explore further possible flight conditions.
Virgin Galactic explained more about it on their site with the following:
Today, VSS Unity pilots Dave Mackay and CJ Sturckow, had an equally busy test-card, but with the emphasis on proving the spaceship’s handling qualities, particularly at low speeds, with more weight on board than previously, and with a centre of gravity shifted towards the back of the vehicle.
This was achieved by loading around 1000lbs of water into a specially installed ballast tank in the rear of the spaceship’s fuselage. That enabled us to explore the flight conditions we will experience during rocket powered flights. By jettisoning the water ballast on descent, we were also able to confirm handling characteristics as the vehicle’s centre of gravity moved forward. Unity completed the flight with a safe and smooth landing in its lighter-weight configuration.
This is all pretty exciting news and all leads up to Virgin Galactic’s final goal, which is to fly customers on trips into suborbital space to provide unmatched views of Earth against to darkness of space.
You can read more about all of this at the source link below.