Virgin Galactic successfully launched and landed its Unity spacecraft by rocket power, completing its first powered flight in almost four years.
“VSS Unity completed her first supersonic, rocket-powered flight this morning in Mojave, California. Another great test flight, another step closer to being,” Virgin Galactic wrote on Twitter.
Unity took off at about 8:02 a.m. as it was propelled to an altitude of 46,500 feet by the WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft, VMS Eve.
Eve then released Unity from under its wing and the SpaceShipTwo’s pilots Mark Stucky and Dave Mackay brought the spacecraft’s engines to life and propelled it into an 80 degree climb, accelerating to Mach 1.87 during the 30 seconds of rocket burn.
“On rocket shutdown, Unity continued an upwards coast to an apogee of 84,271 feet before readying for the downhill return,” Virgin Galactic said.