Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Makes Its First Flight with a Rocket Engine

A couple more tests are needed before the first powered flight

By Lucian Parfeni on December 20th, 2012 18:41 GMT

SpaceX is not the only private space exploration company that's making progress, though, granted, it's the only one making money. Virgin Galactic has announced that its SpaceShipTwo craft has completed its first flight test in the full, powered flight configuration.

So far, all the tests had been done without the engine components, the space plane has only glided so far and without any of the rocket motor components.

Now, the ship is essentially complete and made its first flight in this form. However, it was still a glide flight, the engine was not lit. At least two more glide flights are scheduled before the first powered flight.

The plan remains to be able to carry the first passengers to low Earth orbit as early as next year. The spacecraft will be flown to an altitude of 15 km, 9 miles by its carrier aircraft, the WhiteKnightTwo. It will then detach, power its rocket engine and ascend to 100 km, 62 miles above our planet.
SpaceShipTwo in its first flight complete with rocket engine
   SpaceShipTwo in its first flight complete with rocket engine
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