Virgin Galactic SpaceShip Two Rocket Plane Completes Successful Test Flight
April 15, 2013 9:48 AM
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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.
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RE: Count me in
4/15/2013 4:10:00 PM
the shuttle solid rocket boosters use ammonium perchlorate as an oxidiser.
the x37 uses peroxide (and RP1 as fuel)
theoretically one could use fluorine or something equally nasty - i wouldnt want to be downwind of the exhaust fume of that type of rocket!
air (as a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen) is the oxidiser for a jet engine.
essentially any form of combustion needs fuel and an oxidiser.
whilst oxygen is an oxidiser there are many other agents that can work as an oxidiser
essentially anything with a high electronegativity can work as an oxidiser - it just needs to be able to be more electronegative than the agent being reduced to take away electrons and thus oxidise the agent in question (usually a fuel in the context of jet/rocket propulsion).
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