Smithsonian Air Space Museum Acquires VSS Unity Rocket Motor

Smithsonian Air Space Museum Acquires VSS Unity Rocket Motor

first_imgStay on target The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum has acquired a new out-of-this-world artifact.Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company (TSC), last week donated the hybrid rocket motor used to send SpaceShipTwo, VSS Unity, to space in December.Unveiled during a ceremony at the Washington, D.C., institution, the engine will be exhibited in the forthcoming “Future of Spaceflight” commercial space flight gallery.“The SpaceShipTwo rocket motor is a fitting addition to the National Air and Space Museum’s collection,” according to Ellen Stofan, the John and Adrienne Mars Director of the National Air and Space Museum. “It does not just represent technical achievement. It is sure to also inspire our visitors by demonstrating what can be achieved through entrepreneurial innovation.”Designed and built by TSC, the motor carries the Guinness World Record title of “most powerful hybrid rocket to be used in manned flight.”Weighing in around 3,000 lbs, it boasts 320kN of thrust and a burn duration of around 60 seconds—enough to propel VSS Unity to space at almost three times the speed of sound.The Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo hybrid rocket motor, as seen in the Moving Beyond Earth Gallery of the National Air and Space Museum (via NASM/Eric Long)“We’re proud to be making history as we work toward launching the world’s first commercial space line, and today we could not be more delighted to donate a piece of that history to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum for its wonderful new exhibition,” Branson said in a statement.“The desire to explore space has been an inspiration since time began and, in recent decades, an incredible catalyst for innovation,” he continued. “I hope our donation will also play a small part in inspiring the thousands of visitors as they pass through the new gallery in years to come.”The donated generator—more accurately, the Case-Throat-Nozzle (CTN) assembly—has few moving parts; its simple, robust design, which can be shut down quickly at any point during flight, is ideal for human spaceflight application.“TSC looks forward to building more rocket motors and the fleet of SpaceShipTwo’s, Enrico Palermo, president of The Spaceship Company, said, “watching them provide the power to open space and change the world for good.”On Dec. 13, 2018, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo completed its first test flight, reaching a boundary more than 50 miles above Earth.Piloted by Mark Stucky and C.J. Sturckow, Unity coasted upwards through the black sky into space, before completing a Mach 2.5 supersonic re-entry into the atmosphere and gliding to a smooth runway landing.More on Geek.com:First Commercial SpaceShipTwo Flight Expected to Launch This YearUnder Armour Will Design Space Suits for Virgin GalacticBlue Origin’s New Shepard Spacecraft Successfully Launches NASA Experiments Virgin Galactic Gives First Look at Its Luxurious Lounge for Space TouristsVirgin Galactic Reaches Space Again, This Time With First Test Passenger last_img

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