Editor’s Note: Virgin Galactic’s test flight of SpaceShipTwo lifted off on Feb. 22, 2019 and landed safely after a trip to suborbital space. For updates, follow @virgingalactic on Twitter.
Just over two months since its first venture to suborbital space, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo is set to fly again and test four NASA-supported technologies. The flight, taking off no earlier than Feb. 20, 2019, is the company’s second mission for NASA.
The planned experiments cover a range of research areas, from life support systems to electromagnetic fields. Most of the technologies flew onboard SpaceShipTwo in December 2018 and, more recently, two launched on a Blue Origin rocket. Regular access to reduced-gravity lets researchers collect data needed to mature their technologies for use in deep space.
The four technology payloads planned for the mission are:
- Microgravity Multi-Phase Flow Experiment for Suborbital Testing, NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston
- Vibration Isolation Platform, Controlled Dynamics Inc. in Huntington Beach, California
- Collisions into Dust Experiment, University of Central Florida in Orlando
- Electromagnetic Field Measurements, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore
The photo (Credit: Virgin Galactic) shows the NASA Johnson technology payload being loaded into Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo on Dec. 13, 2018. The payload will fly again on the winged spacecraft’s second flight to suborbital space.
Virgin Galactic and other U.S. commercial spaceflight providers are contracted to provide flight services to NASA for flight testing and technology demonstration. Researchers from academia and industry with concepts for exploration, commercial space applications or other space utilization technologies of potential interest to NASA can receive grants from the Flight Opportunities program to purchase suborbital flights from various U.S. commercial spaceflight providers. The Tech Flights solicitation for potential payloads is open until April 26, 2019. For more information, visit:
About Flight Opportunities
The Flight Opportunities program is funded by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington and managed at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California. NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley manages the solicitation and selection of technologies to be tested and demonstrated on commercial flight vehicles.