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Virgin Galactic pushes back on 'misleading' characterizations, conclusions in report on historic spaceflight
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Virgin Galactic space travel
Virgin Galactic is refuting the contents of a September 1 report that claims that the company's historic July 11 suborbital spaceflight could have been close to a "perilous emergency landing."
A Wednesday piece in The New Yorker said that almost one minute into SpaceShipTwo space plane VSS Unity's powered flight, a yellow caution light had appeared on its console – an indication that the spacecraft was heading off-course.
"The light was a warning to the pilots that their flight path was too shallow and the nose of the ship was insufficiently vertical," it read. "If they didn't fix it, they risked a perilous emergency landing in the desert on their descent."
The New Yorker piece also said that a red warning light had appeared – "an entry glide-cone warning" – on the console as well.
"Based on pilot procedures, Mackay and Masucci had basically two options: implement immediate corrective action, or abort the rocket motor. According to multiple sources in the company, the safest way to respond to the warning would have been to abort. (A Virgin Galactic spokesperson disputed this contention,)" it added.
This account of events, according to the magazine, is based on discussions with "eight people knowledgeable about the program."