Posts Tagged ‘spacecraft’

Virgin Galactic’s VSS Enterprise makes its solo flight

October 11, 2010


Drop test (Virgin Galactic)

The Enterprise spaceship is released from underneath the Eve carrier plane


Virgin Galactic conducted the first piloted gliding flight of its commercial suborbital spaceship, the VSS Enterprise, today, releasing the winged rocket plane from the WhiteKnightTwo mothership at an altitude of 45,000 feet above the Mojave Desert.

With Scaled Composites pilot Pete Siebold and copilot Mike Alsbury at the controls, the futuristic twin-tail spacecraft glided to a touchdown at the Mojave Air and Space Port 11 minutes after its release from WhiteKnightTwo, also known as Eve. The craft was not equipped with a rocket motor for the glide test.

“The VSS Enterprise was a real joy to fly, especially when one considers the fact that the vehicle has been designed not only to be a Mach 3.5 spaceship capable of going into space but also one of the world’s highest altitude gliders,” Siebold said in a Virgin Galactic press release.

Branson said he expects rocket-powered test flights to begin next year, followed by test flights into space “hopefully by the end of next year.”

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Hayabusa returns — Ion engine spacecraft back after 7 years

August 4, 2010

The Japanese asteroid exploration spacecraft Hayabusa returned miraculously on 13th June from a seven-year, trouble-filled journey  powered by ion engines.

Hayabusa’s main engine failed due to fuel leaks, but the probe was able to complete its odyssey by relying on ion engines developed by  NEC. The Japanese firm’s unique method of using microwaves can extend the lifespan of an ion engine to more than twice that of conventional engines. Hayabusa’s successful return “has boosted the credibility of ion engines,” an NEC official said.


Japan is planning for the launch of the “Hayabusa-2” asteroid probe sometime between July 2014 and 2015.


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