January 8, 1997 5pm EST
After flying some 400 miles in approximately 20 hours and landing in the Algerian desert, Virgin
Global Challenger's three pilots proved to handle the challenges in their flight expertly.
An unconfirmed report asserts that the launch sequence, which was scheduled to last some 23
hours, was truncated to 15 hours in order to expedite a launch into optimal weather conditions.
This source, a member of the press who has been following the flight from the Control Center
in London, suggests that there may have been a problem with the explosive release bolts which
were meant to release the used fuel tanks, resulting in an inability to ballast those tanks.
A rapid descent of 10,000 feet in 23 minutes was quickly rectified, however, by Alex Ritchey
so that Per Lindstrand could perform a controlled landing of the system.
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