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Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo completes second glide flight

The long-delayed reusable craft has several more before it moves on to powered flight tests.
David Lumb, @OutOnALumb
December 23, 2016
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Two years ago, Virgin Galactic's first SpaceShipTwo tragically crashed during a test flight, killing one pilot and severely injuring the other. The company unveiled its successor back in February, the VSS Unity, which has additional safety features to prevent another crash. It completed its first glide test two weeks ago, gathering precious data about how the reusable craft behaves in the air, and just performed a second unpowered flight to round out the year.

Virgin Galactic president Mike Moses said in October that they would need to hit all their test objectives before progressing to powered flight, which could take between 8 and 15 total staged glides. Assuming no other delays, Unity could move on to rocket-propelled tests sometime in 2017.

There's still too much testing for Virgin Galactic to state when they'll begin commercial flights, or even an outline schedule for future tests. Despite the program's delays, the company claims that it has about 700 customers who have signed up for a flight on SpaceShipTwo.

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