Virgin Galactic Flexes SpaceShipTwo’s Unique Feather Mechanism in Second Supersonic Flight

  Virgin Galactic Flexes SpaceShipTwo’s Unique Feather Mechanism in Second
  Supersonic Flight

  Company Demonstrates All Technical Mission Phases in Single Flight for the
                                 First Time,
           Confirms On Track to Commence Commercial Service in 2014

Business Wire

MOJAVE, Calif. -- September 5, 2013

Today, Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline owned by Sir
Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi's aabar Investments PJS,
successfully completed the second rocket-powered, supersonic flight of its
passenger carrying reusable space vehicle, SpaceShipTwo (SS2).In addition to
achieving the highest altitude and greatest speed to date, the test flight
demonstrated the vehicle’s full technical mission profile in a single flight
for the first time, including a high altitude deployment of the unique wing
“feathering” re-entry mechanism. All of the test objectives were successfully

At approximately 8 a.m. local time from the Mojave Air and Space Port, the
company’s WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) carrier aircraft took off carrying SS2 to an
altitude of 46,000 feet. Virgin Galactic Chief Pilot Dave Mackay was at the
WK2 controls, assisted by Scaled Composites (Scaled) co-pilot Mike Alsbury and
The Spaceship Company Flight Test Engineer Scott Glaser. Upon release from
WK2, SS2 pilots Mark Stucky and Clint Nichols, both of Scaled, ignited the
rocket motor for the planned 20-second burn propelling the spaceship to 69,000
feet. During this time, SS2 achieved a maximum speed of Mach 1.43. SS2 landed
in Mojave at 9:25 a.m. local time completing the flight test with the pilots
reporting a flawless flight.

Chairman of aabar Investments PJS, H.E. Khadem Al Qubaisi, commented: “This
flight milestone represents a key step forward for the Virgin Galactic team.
The successful completion of all major aspects of the flight mission
demonstrates that we are very close to achieving one of Galactic’s key goals:
commercialising access to space for the broader public. I would like to
congratulate the whole team on their continued success.”

“We couldn’t be more delighted to have another major supersonic milestone
under our belts as we move toward a 2014 start of commercial service,” said
Virgin Galactic Founder Sir Richard Branson. “It was particularly thrilling to
see for the first time today the whole elegant system in action during a
single flight, including the remarkable feathering re-entry system. It was
this safety feature more than anything else that originally persuaded us that
the overall design of the system was uniquely fit for purpose. Everything we
have seen today just confirms that view. Congratulations to all involved!”

“Today, we expanded the SpaceShipTwo rocket-powered flight test envelope with
a longer burn duration and robust testing of the feather mechanism, supersonic
aerodynamics and wing lift structure,” said Virgin Galactic CEO George
Whitesides. “Each powered flight of SpaceShipTwo yields cumulative progress
that builds the foundation for safe and exciting commercial space flights.”

For a downloadable press release, images and video, please visit

Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company will host a career fair in Mojave,
Calif., on Saturday, Sept. 7 from 8 – 11 a.m. PST with a virtual career fair
taking place from 9 – 10 a.m. PST at More than 100
open positions are available with specific career details posted at and

About Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic, owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and aabar
Investments PJS, is on track to be the world’s first commercial spaceline. To
date, the company has accepted nearly $80 million in deposits from
approximately 630 individuals, which is approximately 10% more than the total
number of people who have ever gone to space. The new spaceship (SpaceShipTwo,
VSS Enterprise) and carrier craft (WhiteKnightTwo, VMS Eve) have both been
developed for Virgin Galactic’s vehicle fleet by Mojave-based Scaled
Composites. Founded by Burt Rutan, Scaled developed SpaceShipOne, which in
2004 claimed the $10 million Ansari X Prize as the world’s first privately
developed manned spacecraft. Virgin Galactic’s new vehicles, which will be
manufactured by The Spaceship Company in Mojave, Calif., share much of the
same basic design, but are being built to carry six customers, or the
equivalent scientific research payload, on suborbital space flights. The
vehicles will allow an out-of-the-seat, zero-gravity experience with
astounding views of the planet from the black sky of space for tourist
astronauts and a unique microgravity platform for researchers. The VSS
Enterprise and VMS Eve test flight program is well under way, leading to
Virgin Galactic commercial operations, which will be based at Spaceport
America in New Mexico.

About aabar Investments PJS

Headquartered in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, aabar Investments PJS
(aabar) invests in various sectors including infrastructure, aviation, real
estate, automotive, commodities, energy and financial services. International
Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) acquired a stake in aabar in 2008 and has
progressively increased its stake to over 95% since then. Following IPIC’s
initial investment, aabar has made numerous investments including stakes in
Falcon Private Bank Ltd., UniCredit S.p.A., RHB Bank Malaysia, Galactic
Ventures LLC (Virgin Galactic), XOJET Inc., Glencore Xstrata plc., Arabtec
Construction PJSC and a portfolio of real estate projects. IPIC, established
in 1984 and wholly owned by the Government of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi,
invests globally in energy and energy related sectors and undertakes strategic
projects on behalf of the Government of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. IPIC’s
portfolio currently consists of over 15 investments throughout the hydrocarbon
value chain spanning five continents. Specific investments include: Compañía
Española de Petróleos (CEPSA), NOVA Chemicals Corporation (NOVA), Borealis AG
(Borealis) aabar.


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