It would appear an engine swap is next for Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity suborbital spacecraft after an aborted test flight from its new spaceport near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. “The ignition sequence for the rocket motor did not complete,” the company tweeted after the early-morning flight. “Vehicle and crew are in great shape. We have several motors ready at Spaceport America. We will check the vehicle and be back to flight soon.” The snag occurred on the first powered test flight from the New Mexico base, which will be the home of the company’s space tourism business.
The flight appeared to be going normally and the vehicle detached from the launch aircraft. The rocket motor ignited briefly and went out. It was supposed to burn for about a minute to propel Unity to an altitude of 62 miles, the edge of space. Two astronauts, C.J. Sturdkow and Dave Mackay, were the only occupants; the vehicle was also carrying microgravity experiments for NASA. The astronauts glided Unity to an uneventful landing.