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Capitalism in space: In what appears to be preparation for the final tests before beginning commercial flights, Virgin Galactic yesterday used its carrier airplane WhiteKnightTwo to transport SpaceShipTwo Unity to New Mexico.
The relocation of VSS Unity to Spaceport America enables the Company to engage in the final stages of its flight test program. This will begin with a number of initial captive carry and glide flights from the new operating base in New Mexico, allowing the spaceflight operations team to familiarize themselves with the airspace and ground control. Once these tests are complete, the team will carry out a number of rocket-powered test flights from Spaceport America to continue the evaluation of VSS Unity’s performance. During this phase, the final spaceship cabin and customer experience evaluations will also be concluded in preparation for the start of commercial spaceflight operations.
They are aiming for a July 18, 2020 first flight, carrying Richard Branson on his 70th birthday. Whether they can meet that date remains open. Based on the company’s track record, don’t bet on it.