SpaceShipTwo's nitrous venting tested in-flight


April 5, 2013

SpaceShipTwo left terra firma once more, Wednesday morning (Photo: Virgin Galactic)

SpaceShipTwo left terra firma once more, Wednesday morning (Photo: Virgin Galactic)

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Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo left terra firma for her 24th glide flight on Wednesday morning. The flight was the first in which the loading and venting of the ship's nitrous system was tested. Virgin Galactic described the flight as "another key milestone on the way to our first powered flight."

When SpaceShipTwo does eventually fly under its own steam, liquid nitrous oxide will be used to oxidize the solid rubber-compound fuel that will provide power. This flight successfully tested the systems with which the nitrous oxide is loaded and vented. Interestingly, the venting took place while SpaceShipTwo was still on the pylon that connects it to the WhiteKnightTwo carrier.

Chief Pilot David Mackay manned the controls of the WhiteKnightTwo carrier craft, launching from the Mojave Air & Space Port. Former NASA and military test pilot Mark "Forger" Stucky, now of Scaled Composites, piloted SpaceShipTwo itself.

This was also the sixth in-flight test of SpaceShipTwo's feathered re-entry system, which raises the craft's tail section to angle of 65 degrees to the fuselage, slowing the craft in the upper atmosphere for more efficient reentry.

Virgin Galactic says that all test objectives were met with success.

Source: Virgin Galactic

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life. All articles by James Holloway

I would prefer to be able to dump the fuel as well as the oxidizer but there is a lot to be said for an engine that simple, especially with how easy it is to turn off mid burn.


Nitrous oxide oxidizing a rubber compound? Holy! No no no that's so wrong, just imagine:

"Scotty, fill her up so we can boldly go where no one has gone before....Dude! You spilled some, go, catch that clump!" ....boing, boing, boing...


So they are spewing a known pollutant to launch this craft, not a question, a statement, that sucks

Bill Bennett

re; Bill Bennett

Probably less than if they were burning L.H. and LOX.

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