Virgin Galactic today announced that it’s putting the SpaceShipTwo’s test flights into overdrive. In this phase of the flight program, it will expand the limits for air speed, altitude, loads, and thermal heating. It also plans to burn the rocket motor for longer durations which would see its spaceship and pilots reach a space altitude for the very first time.
The company points out that this could happen as soon as the next flight but cautions that the very nature of test flights means that it may take a bit longer to achieve this milestone. The next flight is scheduled for tomorrow, December 13th.
The rocket motor will burn for longer than it has ever before in a flight but not throughout its full duration. The speeds that it expects to achieve will provide the company with important data points. If all goes according to plan, the pilots may experience an extended period of micro-gravity as they near a space altitude.
The spaceship is officially called VSS Unity and it will now be flying faster and higher than ever before. It will also carry heavier loads which simulate the weight of passengers that it hopes to one day take on suborbital flights.