Watch: Virgin Galactic Spaceship Passes First 'Feather' Reentry Test
Earlier this month Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo completed its first "feather" reentry test flight, and video was released this week.
During the test flight, SS2 was dropped from 51,000 feet and the change in configuration to the feather position appear to cause a significant nose up pitch attitude during the transition. Once the tail surfaces are raised to about 65 degrees and SS2 is established in the feather position, the space craft descends nearly vertically. In the feather position, SS2 appears to be closer to a flat pitch attitude with some oscillations in pitch, roll and yaw.
The feather position allows the space craft to reenter the atmosphere at a slow enough speed to reduce the heating problems that can occur as friction with the atmosphere increases. It also simplifies the process compared to needing a precise glide angle for reentry in order to avoid skipping off of the atmosphere.
You space geeks are going to love this clip.
Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...