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A spacecraft carrying Richard Branson flew the course, FAA is investigating

expansion / Finally Sir Richard Branson is flying.

Between Sir Richard Branson’s historic space flight July, near the end of VSS burning Unity A red light appeared on the engine and console of the spacecraft. This warned the crew of an “entry glide cone warning”. Pilots Dave McKay and Mike Masucci faced a momentary decision. Take immediate action to kill the rocket motor or deal with orbital issues.

This scenario is outlined in a new report by Nicholas Schmiddle, a writer who has more insight into Virgin Galactic than any other journalist. In New Yorker..For his recently published book Test the gods, Schmiddle had unparalleled access to Virgin Galactic and its pilots.

“I once attended the meeting in 2015, during which time pilots of the mission on July 11 and others discussed steps to respond to the glide cone entry warning,” Schmiddle announced Wednesday. I’m writing in the story. “Former Marine and NASA astronaut CJ Sturckow said the yellow light” should scare you outside. “

When accelerating to Mach 3 in July, the pilot knew that turning off the motor would result in VSS. Unity Virgin Galactic founder Branson never exceeded 80 kilometers and did not defeat Jeff Bezos into space. Turning off the motor would be embarrassing for the company and its founders. They did not have an abortion. Instead, they sought to return the vehicle to a safe, upward track so that it could safely glide back to the New Mexico runway.

The pilot was successful and Branson’s flight landed safely. However, by doing so Unity I flew outside the designated airspace for 1 minute and 42 seconds. It may not sound like much time, but it’s more than 10 percent of the flight after being dropped from an aircraft carrier. A Virgin Galactic spokesperson admitted that the company did not notify the Federal Aviation Administration, which was initially investigating the deviation, Schmiddle reports.

Branson’s in-flight problem arises when Virgin Galactic is preparing a spacecraft for the next flight with several members of the Italian Air Force later this month. It is not clear to what extent the FAA survey will affect that timeline.

Difficulty also highlights the analog nature of VSS UnitySpace flight that relies heavily on pilot skills, as opposed to Blue Origin’s New Shepard vehicle and SpaceX’s orbital crew dragon capsule auto-launch and control system. The publicly traded company told investors that it plans to carry out more than 100 flights a year to make a profit.

Virgin Galactic officials told Schmiddle that the company’s top priority was crew and passenger safety.

As part of his new report, Schmiddle also notes the main sources of his book. Test the godsMark “Forger” Stacky, Virgin Galactic’s Chief Test Pilot and Flight Test Director, was stripped of his flight mission after the book was published in May. Sticky played no role in planning Branson’s flight on July 11.

“He saw Branson fly from the runway, which was the first mission he wasn’t responsible for after more than a decade in the program,” Schmiddle reports. “Eight days after Branson’s flight, the HR manager booked time on his calendar and fired Stacky on Zoom.”

https://arstechnica.com/?p=1791372 A spacecraft carrying Richard Branson flew the course, FAA is investigating

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