Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo underwent its second successful rocket-powered test flight yesterday, demonstrating its "wing-feathering" capabilities for the first time. In a video announcement released soon thereafter, Virgin CEO Richard Branson stated the company is "on track for a 2014 start of commercial service." Rich space-enthusiasts, rejoice!
Above: SpaceShipTwo during yesterday's rocket-powered test flight // Credit: MarsScientific.com and Clay Center Observatory.
If you've never seen photo or video of one of SpaceShipTwo's test flights, you're missing out; the footage coming out of these trial runs is inspiring. The successful test of the spacecraft's feathering system is particularly noteworthy in its latest test flight. The unique reentry system is described by Virgin as perhaps "the most radical safety feature employed" by the spacecraft: