On December 22, 2016, Virgin Galactic’s suborbital spaceplane made its second successful free flight. According to SpaceNews, VSS Unity departed from Mojave Air and Space Port in California attached to its carrier aircraft WhiteKnightTwo, “but was released about 40 minutes later, and glided its way back to a successful runway landing in Mojave”. This successful flight followed hot on the heels of another on December 3 during which Unity flew independently for 10 minutes. The future is here. And soon, the nobly-named VSS Unity will be a lovely, inspiring antique.
Which got us thinking about how Unity and its ilk will become the beloved relics in the Show and Shine parades of the centuries to come. Passionately earnest hobbyists such as the United Flight Organization (UFO to its friends) will take time on sunny summer weekends to show off vintage space gear in a terrestrial parade followed by a suborbital flyby. The quirkily-shaped one-man jets and their amusingly tiny rockets will be buffed up for the events, and the proud pilots will be, of course, happy to share their secrets for machining parts for spacecraft whose top speed is only 3,000 miles per hour. “They don’t make them like this any more,” UFO captain Mel “Laika” Smith will tell a local publication. “She’s one of a kind.”
story © Dianna Carr image © Francis Tremblay