Thursday, July 7

Virgin Galactic: this is the VSS Unity space tourism plane | Digital Trends Spanish

A silver and white livery are the hallmarks of VSS Unity, British Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic suborbital space plane that is poised to open the doors for a new era of space tourism. Next, we tell you how is the VSS Unity of Virgin Galactic.

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Originally known as SpaceShipTwo Series 2, the VSS Unity was officially unveiled in 2016. It is the successor to the SpaceShipTwo VSS Enterprise, which crashed in the Mojave Desert in 2014, killing pilot Michael Alsbury.

Although in 2004 it was speculated that it could be called VSS Voyager, its current name was chosen by the late British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, who in February 2016 christened it Virgin Spaceship (VSS) Unity. In fact, his eye is used as a template for the Unity’s side logo.

How is VSS Unity

Crew two
Ability 6 passengers
Length 18.3 meters (60 feet)
Wingspan 8.3 meters (27 feet 3 inches)
Height 5.5 m (18 ft 1 in)
Gross weight 9,740 kilos (21,473 pounds)
Power plant RocketMotorTwo Liquid / Solid Hybrid Rocket Engine
Maximum speed 4,000 km / h (2,500 mph)
Flight ceiling 110,000 meters (360,000 ft)

The VSS Unity is Virgin Galactic’s second SpaceShipTwo-like suborbital spacecraft, but it is the first built by The Spaceship Company, the Branson company’s manufacturing arm. The previous model was run by Scaled Composites, a company funded by Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft.

SpaceShipTwo-type aircraft like the VSS Unitiy are low-aspect ratio vehicles, which have a capacity of eight people: two pilots and six passengers.

The VSS Unitiy cabin is 3.7 meters long (12 feet) and 2.3 meters in diameter (7 feet 7 inches). The wingspan is 8.3 meters (27 feet), while the length is 18.3 meters (59 feet) and the height of the tail is 4.6 meters (15 feet).

Inside, it has 17- and 13-inch (43- and 33-centimeter) diameter windows, so that passengers have a chance to appreciate the space. The seats were built with aluminum and carbon fiber fabrication techniques, feature a breathability-mapping 3D fabric designed by the Under Armor company and recline during landing, to reduce discomfort from G-forces.

Other characteristics of the interior of the cabin are:

  • Automated ambient lighting harmonizes with each phase of flight.
  • Screens on the backs of personal seats connect astronauts to live flight data.
  • The cab architecture facilitates effortless movement in weightless conditions.
  • 16 cameras provide high definition video and images.
  • 12 cockpit windows so astronauts can look at Earth.
  • A mirror that reflects the astronauts’ experience in real time.

Equipped with a hybrid engine, the VSS is launched from the White Knight Two mothership, an altitude of 15,000 meters (49,000 feet). They are capable of reaching supersonic speed in 8 seconds (4,200 km / h / 2,600 mph). After 70 seconds, its hybrid engine shuts down and the space plane glides to its maximum altitude, over 100,000 meters.

Unlike orbital spacecraft, which return to Earth at speeds close to 25,000 km / h (16,000 mph), requiring heat shields, the VSS Unity uses a low-speed feathered reentry system. In addition, it is designed to re-enter any angle.

VSS Unity flights

Virgin galactic

Between 2018 and 2021, VSS Unity has successfully conducted three test flights, while a fourth was suspended prior to launch.

Flight Date Outcome Maximum speed Altitude Crew
VSS Unity VP-03 Dec 13, 2018 Successful MACH 2.9 82.72 km (51.40 miles) Mark Stucky and Frederick Sturckow
VSS Unity VF-01 February 22, 2019 Successful MACH 3.04 89.9 km (55.9 mi) [97] Dave Mackay, Michael Masucci and Beth Moses
VSS Unity VF-02 December 12, 2020 Aborted Dave Mackay and Frederick Sturckow
VSS Unity Unity 21 May 22, 2021 Successful MACH 3 89.2 km (55.4 mi Dave Mackay and Frederick Sturckow
VSS Unity Unity 22 July 11, 2021 Planned David Mackay, Michael Masucci, Sirisha Bandla, Colin Bennett, Beth Moses and Richard Branson

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