Virgin Galactic completes first rocket-powered, supersonic flight of its new spacecraft, Unity

Read more on this subject: Space Travel and Exploration
News Story Source:, Michael Sheetz
Unity took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port, lifted by the jet-powered mothership Eve. The carrier aircraft lifted Unity to an altitude of 46,500 feet above the desert. Eve released Unity from under its wing and, with a two-member crew of Mark Stucky and Dave Mackay, Unity's rocket motor roared to life. The rocket screamed into a steep climb as the engine burned for 30 seconds, pushing Unity past the speed of sound to Mach 1.87.

"On rocket shutdown, Unity continued an upwards coast to an apogee of 84,271 feet before readying for the downhill return," Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said in a statement.

The Unity craft the turned and glided back to land at Mojave, with Eve touching down soon after. It was the fifth powered test flight of the SpaceShipTwo design, and the first since the fatal crash of Spaceship Enterprise on Oct. 31, 2014.

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