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SpaceShipTwo performs second powered test flight
Posted: Fri, Sep 6, 2013, 8:03 AM ET (1203 GMT)
SpaceShipTwo on second powered flight ( Virgin Galactic flew its SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle on its second powered flight Thursday as the company claimed it was on track to bring commercial operations in 2014. SpaceShipTwo, released from its WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft, fired its hybrid rocket motor for 20 seconds, achieving a peak altitude of 21,000 meters and top speed of Mach 1.43 before landing back at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. Those figures are slightly better than SpaceShipTwo's inaugural powered flight in April, when it fired its engine for 16 seconds. On this flight, SpaceShipTwo also demonstrated its feathering system, raising and lowering the wings as it would during reentry on a suborbital flight, something tested on unpowered test flights but not during April's powered flight. The test, Virgin Galactic officials said, keeps SpaceShipTwo on track to begin commercial flights in 2014.
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