Abort Mission: Virgin Galactic Suspends Test Flight While Already On Air

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Unity
Photo : Screenshot from Virgin Galactic's Official YouTube Channel

American spaceflight and aircraft company Virgin Galactic conducted its very first powered test flight in New Mexico this Saturday with their supersonic rocket plane. But as it went up into the sky, the mission was suddenly aborted due to engine failure, and the two pilots had no choice but to glide down back to the ground.

The failed attempt to fly the company's SpaceShipTwo Unity which was attached to VMS Eve, its mothership, was caught on camera and video shown on a Twitch livestream which was reported to be an insider coverage authorized by NASA's official website NASASpaceflight. The incident was also reported and confirmed by Virgin Galactic, mentioning that the spacecraft's pilots namely CJ Sturckow and Dave Mackay has landed safely despite of aborting the test flight.

The Cause of Virgin Galactic's Failed Attempt

The main cause why the test flight did not succeed rooted from the engine of the spacecraft itself, in which it did not ignite after the moment of releasing the craft from its special carrier jet. It sparked out a bit in the early parts of the video, but then it ended shortly. Typical flights tend to ignite the engine within a minute. It then went downward, which could have caused the spaceship to crash, yet it landed safely in the open grounds of New Mexico.

The mission was supposedly SpaceShipTwo Unity's third test flight, and it also could have been their attempt to go way up past the 50-mile mark. It could somehow reach the tip point between the earth's atmosphere and the opening parts of the outer space.

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But after the engine was cut out, the spaceship somehow became a glider which then returned and landed on its launch site. Only the two pilots were inside the ship, and no passengers were on board when they began the test flight. The company mentioned that it may replace its engine motor in the soonest possible time.

The SpaceShipTwo's Early Flights

The first two flights of the SpaceShipTwo Unity were facilitated way back late 2018, and the other one was in 2019. It took place on the company's own facility in the Mojave Air and Spaceport in California. Then Virgin Galactic moved unto their operations on to their new headquarters in the New Mexico desert, which was then called the Spaceport America. From then, all other test flights that would be conducted will all take place in New Mexico, with last Saturday's test flight being the latest one to be executed there. The new place would also be the company's desired area to conduct all of their commercial tourist flights.

This third flight attempt was originally scheduled a few weeks earlier. Yet it has seen some sort of delays due to the restrictions brought upon by the pandemic of the COVID-19 that were introduced in New Mexico. The company also mentioned that Saturday's test flight was facilitated under the strict health guidelines and protocols, and only those who were considered as essential personnel were allowed to be onsite during the test.

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