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We know that the Spaceship One and Spaceship Two designs from Virgin Galactic/The Spaceship Company/Scaled Composites employ feathering for aerobraking and maneuverability. I can't seem to track down any information on when or exactly how (beyond 'hydraulics') the transitions occur in the flight profile.

At what velocity or altitude does the ship transfer from the 'capsule' configuration to the 'plane' configuration and also what is the orientation of the plane with respect to the nose and atmosphere?

Does it reach the plane configuration in a dive which it must then pull out of or does it transfer to a plane in belly-down freefall where the hydraulic feathering must push against substantial drag?

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I don't think we know details about SS2, especially since the flight profile is kinda dynamic right now - rumors are the the new(est) engine can't get the vehicle to the Karman line.

Here is the entry part of the flight profile from the precursor SS1 (which did exceed the Karman line):

While at apogee the wings are reconfigured into high-drag mode. As the craft falls back it achieves high speeds comparable to those achieved on the way up; when it subsequently reenters the atmosphere it decelerates violently, up to about 5 g. At some altitude between 10 km (6.2 mi) and 20 km (12 mi) it reconfigures into low-drag glider mode, and glides down to a landing in about 20 minutes

Source

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Source

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  • $\begingroup$ Where do you get your rumors haha? Also, what's etiquette here? Do I accept your answer or leave it for now since it's basically "we don't know yet" and see if we can find out something conclusive in the next couple of years? $\endgroup$ Apr 9, 2018 at 21:38
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    $\begingroup$ The great thing about stack exchange is that it's totally up to the asker what they do with an answer. The best source for (pretty credible, IMHO) rumors on VG is parabolicarc.com. The trouble with these newspace companies is that they are under no obligation to tell the public anything, so it's very difficult to get hard info. $\endgroup$ Apr 9, 2018 at 21:43
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    $\begingroup$ coolio. I'm gonna leave it for now. Thank you $\endgroup$ Apr 9, 2018 at 21:47

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