Virgin Galactic's "feathered flight" as a David Ope animated GIF


I'm a big fan of haute gif artist davidope, and his homage today to the first "Feathered" flight of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo (SS2) is quite nifty.

Here's the actual video, from Virgin Galactic.


  1. When I see this spacecraft, I’m never sure if it’s reality or a model from Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds

  2. burt rutan , retired , ( and hopefully enjoying it !! ) , is still one of my very few heroes !!

  3. Wow, I didn’t know it was meant to do that… that feathering move is pretty cool.

    Still, I’m not sure how this proves they “have a re-entry vehicle”… unless I’m mistaken, that wasn’t footage of an actual re-entry to the atmosphere.

    Wouldn’t orbital velocity be a lot higher? But then I guess there’s a great deal less air where re-entry occurs; I suppose those two factors are meant to cancel out?

    1. Still, I’m not sure how this proves they “have a re-entry vehicle”… unless I’m mistaken, that wasn’t footage of an actual re-entry to the atmosphere.

      Re-entry means to re-enter something. It doesn’t require that you go into orbit in the mean time. Having said that I would prefer to do my aerobraking in an Apollo command module.

  4. As a rudderless youth, I spent 4 years in the USAF as a “crew chief” on first F-16s then F-15 fighters. I was mesmerized by the capabilities of those machines and was fortunate enough to befriend a few pilots who were willing to discuss fighter tech with a mere enlistee. I have clear and fond memories of the pilots going “gaga” over Rutan’s first stall-free design be proven in the high desert. They way they were carrying on and twisting their hands and arms to demonstrate maneuvers looked like a fusion of “gang-signs” and classical Khmer dancing.

    Rutan’s ability to consistently bring them most creative and abstract principles of aerodynamics into flawlessly performing physical forms is a rare ability we’re fortunate to witness (and have witnessed) unfold.

  5. That’s another giant leap for mankind.

    There is a God (forget May 21st) and he has some killer sideburns. All hail the name Rutan.

  6. Is that a skid instead of a wheel under the nose?

    It sure looks like a skid, but maybe that’s just me.

  7. The “feathering” part of the video was pretty damn dramatic. That is an amazing vehicle. All hail Rutan!

  8. Jaw

    That’s the most beautiful, inspiring thing I’ve seen in a long time.

  9. Very impressive. I’m thrilled by the fact that going into space is no longer a strictly irrational economic decision funded by governments just to prove that we can do it. Rather, we’re doing it because there may be some profit to be made, even if it is by providing joyrides for billionaires.
    Also amazing is that they’re doing it with the minimum technology necessary to do it safely. I realize this is little more than a civilian redux of the U.S. Air Force X-15 program, but the fact that they’re using piston-engine aircraft as chase planes rather than F-104 interceptor fighters says a lot about the mindset behind the Virgin Galactic program. It’s almost what you’d imagine if New Zealand or some other bootstrapping small country decided it needed a national space program.
    With time, Richard Branson, Scaled Composites and whoever has an economically justifiable reason to put people in orbit will achieve that too.

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