How is orbital flight different from suborbital? | Science | Society

70-year-old billionaire Richard Branson owner of Virgin Galactic, successfully completed a suborbital test flight on the Unity-22 spacecraft on 11 July. This was reported on the company’s website.

This was Virgin Galactic’s first experimental flight with a full crew in the cockpit. There were also five employees in the company on board: test pilots Dave Makay And Michael Mazucci, head of the astronaut training program Beth Moseschief engineer of the company Colin Bennet and responsible for research Sirisha Bandla. Following the completion of the test flight program, the company plans to begin commercial service.

Richard Branson’s flight. Photo: Reuters

What is suborbital flight?

Suborbital flight is the flight of an aircraft along a ballistic trajectory (a trajectory along which a body moves, to which a certain initial velocity is given, under the influence of gravity and aerodynamic air resistance) at a velocity less than the first space (ie. this speed is not sufficient to get an artificial earth satellite into orbit).

Also called suborbital is a flight that is performed at a speed between the first and second space in the cases where the formed orbit has a pericenter (nearest point) below the surface of the planet. In this case, it is also not a matter of entering the orbit of an artificial planet on the planet.

The first cosmic velocity (circular velocity) is the minimum velocity that must be reported to the body so that it becomes an artificial satellite for the earth. On the surface of our planet it is 7.91 km / s.

The second cosmic velocity is the minimum initial velocity that must be reported to the body so that, after beginning to move close to the earth’s surface, it overcomes the earth’s gravity. On the planet’s surface it is about 11.2 km / s.

What is orbital flying?

In space travel, a ship or satellite is “thrown” by a rocket into orbit around the earth. Once in outer space, the device flies around the planet without falling to the surface.

In order for a craft to remain in orbit, it must have an evacuation speed. It depends on the flight altitude. For example, for a circular track at an altitude of 200 km, the orbital speed is 7,780 m / s (28,000 km / h).

What is space travel?

Space travel is a journey into space.

There are disputes over what counts as the lower limit of the cosmos. According to the definition of the International Federation of Aeronautics, outer space begins at an altitude of 100 km. The karman line runs conditionally there, which acts as the boundary between the earth’s atmosphere and space.

The US Civil Aviation Administration and the US Air Force are of the opinion that outer space begins at an altitude of 50 miles (about 80 km).

Where was Virgin Galactic’s spaceflight?

After the flight, Branson told reporters that he had dreamed of flying into space since childhood. “Honestly, nothing can completely prepare you for the view that opens up to the earth from space. It was something magical,” said the head of the company.

However, most experts believe that Unity-22 technically did not come to space. The flight of Virgin Galactic, by international definition, can not be called space, because it did not reach a height of 100 kilometers, the historian of Russian cosmonautics told RIA Novosti Alexander Zheleznyakov. “It’s more like touching space than space travel,” said the expert.

In the near future, Blue Origin intends to make a spaceflight. Its founder Jeff Bezos will leave space on July 20 with the New Shepard spacecraft. He will also have his brother on board. Ground, 82 year old American Wally Funk, who in the 1960s was the youngest graduate of the space program for women, as well as an as yet unnamed person who won a ticket at an auction for 28 million dollars.

“From the very beginning, New Shepard was designed to fly over the Karman Line. For 96% of the world’s population, space begins 100 km away. Only 4% of the people in the world recognize the lower limit of space at an altitude of 80 km. The New Shepard will fly over both borders.This is one of the many benefits of flying Blue Origin, Blue Origin said in a statement.

How was the flight with Virgin Galactic?

Richard Branson and his crew were in flight for a total of about an hour. Its live broadcast could be seen on Virgin Galactic’s website, the flight recording is available on the company’s Youtube channel.

The Eve plane took off from the runway at Spaceport America in New Mexico at 10:40 ET (17:40 Moscow time). At 11:25 US East Coast time (18:25 Moscow time) it rose to an altitude of 15 kilometers, after which Unity-22 came loose. Experts do not call this unit a full-fledged spacecraft, but a jet-powered aircraft or a high-altitude aircraft.

During the Unity-22 flight, the unit reached a speed of about Mach 3 (about 3.7 thousand km / h) and rose to an altitude of 53.5 miles (86.1 km). Then it entered the dense layers of the atmosphere again and landed in Spaceport America at 11:38 US East Coast time (18:38 Moscow time).


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