A protracted-awaited rocket-powered flight over the southern New Mexico desert on Saturday was a lot shorter thanand its founder, Richard Branson, had hoped for.
The corporate’s WhiteKnightTwo plane took off from thespaceport at 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.
“After being launched from its mothership, SpaceShipTwo Unity’s onboard pc that displays the rocket motor misplaced connection,” the corporate reported afterward Twitter. “As designed, this triggered a fail-protected state of affairs that deliberately halted ignition of the rocket motor.”
Unity glided again for a touchdown at Spaceport America, and the corporate confirmed that each one pilots and autos are protected and safe.
“As we do with each take a look at flight, we’re evaluating all the information, together with the basis trigger evaluation of the pc communication loss,” the company added. “We stay up for sharing info on our subsequent flight window within the close to future.”
After years of improvement 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 take a look at flight.
Virgin has accomplished powered take a look at flights from California. However it goals to carry out two take a look at flights from its business house base in New Mexico earlier than Branson lastly will get to take the joyride he is been ready (and paying) for because the firm’s founding in 2004.
Saturday’s flight was additionally carrying some small payloads for NASA. It is not but clear when the corporate will strive once more.