Using the carrier aircraft VMS Eve, Virgin Galactic says that it successfully relocated the SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity spaceplane to its Gateway to Space building at Spaceport America. The plane was located in Mojave, California, whereas Spaceport America is located in New Mexico. The flight between the two states also gave Virgin Galactic a long period of time during which it evaluated the spaceplane.
The VSS Unity is a crewed rocket-powered suborbital spaceplane that conducted its first flight in 2016 and its first suborbital spaceflight in December 2018. The spaceplane reached an altitude of more than 50 miles, meaning it broke what the government considers the boundary of outer space.
In an announcement on Thursday, Virgin Galactic revealed that it has relocated the spaceplane to its Spaceport America. It took three hours to fly the plane to New Mexico using the carrier plane; this offered a long duration for gathering data on how the plane handled the cold temperatures and high altitude, according to the company.
The VMS Eve carrier craft was piloted by Frederick Sturckow and Mike Masucci; the VSS Unity had Dave Mackay as Chief Pilot and Nicola Pecile, Italian Air Force Test Pilot. According to Virgin Galactic, this was part of the company’s previously announced transition to the New Mexico destination, something that started early last year.
Now that VSS Unity is located at Spaceport America, Virgin Galactic says that it can kick off its flight test program’s final stages. This process will include rocket-powered test flights, glide flights, and captive carry flights. Virgin will maintain its Spaceship Company, which is responsible for design and testing, among other things, in California.