I imagine that SS2 goes supersonic within a few seconds of engine ignition after release at 50k ft. At what altitude will it go subsonic on the descent, and would the sonic boom be an issue on the ground?
Some more details on the flight test program.http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story.jsp?id=news/asd/2010/10/12/05.xml&headline=Flawless%20First%20Flight%20For%20SpaceShipTwo&channel=space
Interesting...Apparently the next/fourth test phase, set to begin in early 2011, will have short mid-flight bursts from the new rocket motor.
Because of a recent landing gear issue with Eve that is still being resolved, the Scaled team elected to fly the mother ship with the gear down and locked throughout the entire flight. This limited the release height to 45,000 feet, the approximate ceiling of the aircraft in the gear down configuration at the weight flown on Sunday.
Set your DVRs to record the National Geographic channel tonight, their documentary "Virgin Galactic: Will it Fly?" airs tonight at 10:00pm EST in the US.
It was interesting that they built the crafts without any wind tunnel testing.
Flight: WK2 Flight 44 / GF02Date: 28 Oct 10 Flight Time: 10 min, 51 secWK2 Pilot: Siebold WK2 CoPilot: Nichols WK2 FTE: TigheSS2 Pilot: Stucky SS2 CoPilot: AlsburyGS Crew: Binnie, Kalogiannis, Persall, Knupp, Inks, Bassett, Cassebeer, Story, Y. Fuchs, Maisler, Verderame, KelleyObjectives: Clean releaseEvaluate stability and controlExpand flutter envelopeRoll evaluationLandResults:All objectives achieved. Flew to more aggressive stall indication. Evaluated handling and stability through several maneuvers. Expanded envelope to 230 KEAS and 3g's. Roll evaluation. Full stop landing.