Just today, Virgin Galactic sent its commercial spacecraft SpaceShipTwo into space, for the first time for itself. But once at a maximum altitude of 82.68 kilometers, the spacecraft did not reach 17.32 kilometers to the Karman line — which is recognized by the world as the boundary separating the atmosphere from space. The question arises: what is space in General? Before we break down The virgin Galactic achievement into pieces, let’s give credit to the company. It wasn’t easy to do that.
After 14 years of development and the tragic failure that led to the death of a test pilot in 2014, Virgin Galactic finally reached space. Or, in any case, called the achieved space.
Virgin Galactic and neocosmos
Today, over the California desert Mojave SpaceShipTwo Virgin Galactic company (aka VSS Unity) reached its climax of 82.68 kilometers — so said Virgin Galactic. This is the first space flight for the Virgin Galactic spacecraft and, oddly enough, the first manned space flight launched from American earth since the last space Shuttle mission in 2011. Moreover, since all this was carried out with the support of the NASA Flight Opportunities Program (there were four space science and technology experiments on Board Unity), it was also the first flight of Virgin Galactic with the generation of profit.
The WhiteKnightTwo aircraft released Unity at an altitude of about 13.1 kilometers at about 10:11 am local time. Separated from the mother ship, the suborbital transport activated the rocket engines for 60 seconds and reached a peak speed of Mach 3.9. The mission operators on Earth congratulated the pilots, saying, ” unity, welcome to space.” Photos taken from Unity show the blackness of space and the expressive curve of the Earth.
The machine achieved a speed of 2.5 Mach during reentry using their advanced configuration “feathers”, when the tail wings are at an angle to create resistance, like a shuttlecock for badminton. By 11: 11 the mission was completed and the car landed safely on the runway at the air and space port of Mojave.
Mark Stuckey and Frederick stark have officially become astronauts. In any case, deserved such recognition from NASA and the us military.
For the owner of Virgin Galactic Richard Branson, this moment was the one he had been waiting for a very, very long time.
But did VSS Unity of the cosmos, really? Depends on who you ask.
In the United States, the Federal aviation administration (FAA) recognizes the border 80 kilometers above the Ground. Virgin noted that the FAA will award pilots “wings of astronauts”. The boundary is, of course, a little conditional, but lies between the mesosphere and the thermosphere – a kind of boundary line of the atmosphere.
But there is also the Pocket line, according to which space begins 100 kilometers above the Earth. This demarcation line is recognized by The international Federation of standards, which is involved in Aeronautics and Astronautics. Notably, the Pocket line was the boundary recognized for the Ansari X Prize competition, which won Scaled Composites and its SpaceShipOne in 2004. At this boundary, close to the bottom of the thermosphere, the atmosphere is so thin that the principles of Aeronautics are no longer applicable, and vehicles at this altitude must move faster to gain traction.
This boundary is also designed to be extremely close to the 100 km mark, so this is where the Karman line runs.
To further complicate matters, recent recalculations made by Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian center for astrophysics, show that the Pocket line is actually 20 kilometers closer to Earth. If McDowell’s calculations are accepted, the border will be closer to 80 kilometers, and therefore closer to the border recognized by the FAA.
Do not forget about the expectations of people. For potential space tourists, these boundaries may be meaningless if their wishes are not fulfilled. In suborbital flights like these, the spacecraft spends virtually no time in space, and passengers have no ability to float freely in microgravity. Future passengers of SpaceShipTwo will have to be satisfied with the excellent overview and technical definition of “space”.
But that doesn’t stop Virgin Galactic. The company has not yet announced the start date of commercial flights on SpaceShipTwo, but today’s launch is an important step in this direction. So far, more than 600 people have queued for the flight, buying a ticket for $ 250,000. To look at the likeness of space.