Virgin Galactic SpaceShip Two Rocket Plane Completes Successful Test Flight
April 15, 2013 9:48 AM
Powered flight could be coming soon
It's been a while since we talked about Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip Two rocket plane, which had its
first test flight
back in 2010. Last Friday, the spacecraft conducted another successful milestone as it glided during a test flight that had oxidizer flowing through its engine. Some believe that this gliding test with oxidizer flowing to the engine could indicate that the spacecraft's first powered spaceflight could be coming soon.
SpaceShip Two was connected to the bottom of the WhiteKnightTwo carrier plane and it took off from the
Mojave Air and Space Port
. The carrier aircraft took the spaceship to 50,000 feet where it released the rocket plane for a test flight lasting just under 11 minutes.
So far SpaceShip Two has yet to make a powered flight despite the fact that its hybrid rocket engine has been extensively tested (including multiple test firings on the ground). So far the rocket has never been activated during flight.
All point to April 22 for the first powered test flight for the spacecraft. Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson recently posted a rather teasing comment that read, "I look forward to seeing you all in Mojave soon."
"Importantly, and for the first time in the air, oxidizer was flowed through the propulsion system and out through the nozzle at the rear of the vehicle — thus successfully accomplishing the 'Cold-Flow' procedure," Virgin Galactic said in a news release. "As well as providing further qualifying evidence that the rocket system is flight-ready, the test also provided a stunning spectacle due to the oxidizer contrail, and for the first time gave a taste of what SpaceShipTwo will look like as it powers to space."
Virgin Galactic says that over 500 people have registered to take the $200,000 suborbital space tour.
"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007
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