Virgin Galactica SpaceShipTwo’s First Powered Test Flight Aborted Minutes After Launch

Virgin Galactica SpaceShipTwo’s First Powered Test Flight Aborted Minutes After Launch.

A Virgin Galactic test flight ended prematurely after its rocket engine failed to ignite high above the Earth. The spacecraft, which was crewed by two pilots, however, landed safely at Spaceport America in southern New Mexico.

“The ignition sequence for the rocket motor did not complete. Vehicle and crew are in great shape,” the company tweeted shortly after SpaceShipTwo landed. “We have several motors ready at Spaceport America. We will check the vehicle and be back to flight soon.”

Michael Colglazier, chief executive of Virgin Galactic, said a computer on SpaceShipTwo lost connection around the time of ignition. “As designed, this triggered a fail-safe scenario that intentionally halted ignition of the rocket motor. Following this occurrence, our pilots flew back to Spaceport America and landed gracefully as usual,” he said in a statement. An investigation to find the root cause of the computer issue is underway.

Virgin Galactic ultimately aims to be operating space tourism flights from next year, and already has more than 600 customers for the €220,000  seats – including Justin Bieber and Leonardo DiCaprio.

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Tony Winterburn

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