Virgin Galactic's space plane made its first manned glide flight on 10/10/10, proving the spaceship's airworthiness and further paving the way for future space tourism trips.
The W-shaped VSS Enterprise separated from its mothership Sunday around 45,000 feet. Test pilot Pete Siebold and co-pilot Mike Alsbury safely glided to a landing at Mojave Air and Spaceport, Virgin Galactic said. Check out the video below.
The carbon-fiber plane is a direct descendant of SpaceShipOne, the Burt Rutan creation that won the Ansari X Prize.
In a press release, Siebold said the plane was "a joy to fly."
The Enterprise is one of the world's highest-altitude gliders, and is also capable of reaching Mach 3 speeds in order to rocket into space.
In the weeks prior to the flight, mothership WhiteKnightTwo (this one is called Eve) flew 40 flights, including four captive-carry flights, to make sure systems were functioning properly.
Sunday's flight was designed to test Enterprise's flight profile; Siebold and Alsbury tested the vehicle's handling and stall characteristics, stability and control, and lift-to-drag profile, according to Virgin Galactic. The trip pretty much represents what will happen when Virgin Galactic starts taking tourists into space.