US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — On Friday, the Virgin Galactic VSS Unity suborbital rocket manned spacecraft landed in the New Mexico desert, marking its first glide flight from the America spaceport.
The company announced the flight on social networks and shared photos of the ship on the runway and crew members located far from each other around a special carrier aircraft that delivers a small spaceship to a great height.
After many years of development and testing at the Mojave, California aerospace center, Virgin Galactic is close to launching real-life flights on its futuristic ship in southern New Mexico. The company did not set a date for the first commercial flights, but announced that it plans to do so already in 2020.
Before Virgin Galactic can take on board customers for supersonic extreme flights to the lower reaches of space, where they can experience a few minutes of zero gravity and look at the earth below, a small number of test flights are required. Suborbital flights reach a height of at least 80.5 kilometers (50 miles) before the spacecraft begins to descend for landing.
The company considered Friday’s flight the main achievement that has been in their operations since the spacecraft and carrier rocket moved to New Mexico in February. The flight provided the first opportunity to check all the components necessary for the flight of a carrier aircraft and a spacecraft from their new home base. Officials will now study the data collected during the exercises in order to prepare for the next test flight.
More than 600 customers from all over the world have made deposits for flights, and Virgin Galactic has received about 8,000 online bookings since the successful test flight into space in December 2018. Company officials expect this interest to exceed the company’s ability to fly in the next few years.
First places were sold at $ 250,000. Those who want to register online pay a full refundable deposit of $ 1,000.
Virgin Galactic reported on Friday that during a glide flight at America’s Cosmodrome, stringent security measures were in place during a coronavirus outbreak. These included the mandatory use of masks, changing work areas and procedures to ensure social distance.
Many employees worked remotely during the pandemic, and Virgin Galactic President Mike Moses said on his blog that the team was busy with relief efforts. They donated food, masks, gloves, and other medical supplies to communities and hospitals in New Mexico and California.
The company has also donated more than $ 60,000 in New Mexico and is working on developing oxygen devices that could potentially help patients with COVID-19.
Last fall, Virgin Galactic entered the New York Stock Exchange. Company officials are preparing to release their first quarter results on Tuesday.
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