The craft, known as VSS Unity, has just begun on-the-ground taxi tests at California’s Mojave Air and Space Port – and it’s on track to begin flight tests as early as this month.
During today’s first taxi test, a Range Rover SUV pulled Unity down Mojave’s runway to evaluate and calibrate the craft’s navigation and communication/telemetry systems, Virgin Galactic said.
The initial flight tests will involve carrying Unity into the air while it’s firmly attached to its White Knight Two mother ship. If those captive-carry tests go well, White Knight Two will start releasing Unity for unpowered glide flights, and then for rocket-powered flights.
Virgin Galactic’s operator license, issued on July 29, clears the way for test flights from Mojave and for the transport of scientific and experimental payloads.