A video has been released of Virgin's Galactic Spaceship "feathering" its way through the atmosphere, preventing a build-up of friction that leads to excessive heat and the need for special materials protecting the ship. Dropped from 51,500 feet, it dropped at 15,500 feet per minute and was amazingly stable thanks to the design of the aircraft. Check out the video!
Clay Center Observatory/Virgin Galactic
Virgin's VSS Enterprise falls back to Earth, completing a test known as "feathering."
"Feathering," as it is known, is probably the biggest innovation integrated into SpaceShipTwo's design. In the feathered position, the entire tail section of the plane rotates upward about 65 degrees, creating a different aerodynamic shape that is highly stable yet creates tremendous drag to slow the aircraft down during re-entry. Though that drag is pretty significant, the light weight of the aircraft keeps the skin temperature from rising too high, circumventing the need for heat shields and other thermal protection.
Last edited by Frank3nst3in; May 20th, 2011 at 21:18.