Archive for July 13, 2021

07/13/2021 – Ephemeris – Virgin Galactic had a successful full crew flight to the edge of space

July 13, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Tuesday, July 13th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 16 minutes, setting at 9:26, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:10. The Moon, halfway from new to first quarter, will set at 11:59 this evening.

This past Sunday was Virgin Galactic’s first test passenger flight to what the United States calls space, past 50 miles altitude, in their VSS Unity spaceship. The four passengers for this test flight were all basically Virgin Galactic employees, including its founder, Richard Branson. The international definition of where space begins is 100 kilometers or 62 miles altitude. At either altitude, a suborbital spacecraft at its peak altitude would be traveling so slowly that the atmospheric effects are negligible. However, if a spacecraft were to pass through that altitude on reentry at over 17 thousand miles an hour, that’s an entirely different story. On July 20th Jeff Bezos will ride his New Shepard rocket up past 62 miles.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT – 4 hr). They may be different for your location.


VSS Unity launch

Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship VSS Unity ignites its hybrid rocket engine after being dropped from its carrier aircraft Eve on a prior test flight to the edge of space. Credit Sky News.

VSS Unity under power

VSS Unity under power with its hybrid rocket motor. The fuel is a solid rubbery compound, with a nitrous oxide as the oxidizer. Powered flight lasts only 60 seconds to reach 56 miles in altitude. This is from a prior flight. Click on the image to enlarge it. Credit: Virgin Galactic.

Floating in zero G in VSS Unity 22

Floating in zero G in VSS Unity 22. I can imagine the announcement: “The seat belt sign has been turned off. You may float about the cabin.” At least for 5 minutes. Click on the image to enlarge it. Credit: Virgin Galactic video.