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Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo glides towards first powered flight


December 20, 2012

SpaceShipTwo's first glide in powered flight configuration with the rocket motor nozzle visible

SpaceShipTwo's first glide in powered flight configuration with the rocket motor nozzle visible

After returning to the air earlier this year following a nearly nine-month long break which saw the integration of rocket motor systems, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo completed its 23rd guide flight this week. The significance of this flight is that it was the spaceplane’s first glide in powered flight configuration.

The glide test flight, which was conducted on December 19th, was SpaceShipTwo’s first glide with rocket motor components, including tanks, installed, and with thermal protection applied to the craft’s leading edges. SpaceShipTwo also flew in the same configuration on a test flight on December 14, but it remained mated to the WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft.

Virgin Galactic stated earlier this year that it was aiming for the first powered flights by the end of the year. But with 2012 rapidly drawing to a close and SpaceShipTwo expected to undertake a minimum of two more glide flights, early 2013 seems a like a better bet.

Source: Virgin Galactic

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick


Bill Bennett

It is unwise to set your watch by the timetable of research and development projects.

I want to see this fly so bad.


Can't blame them for taking their time with development. If anything goes wrong, people are quick to sue for large amounts of money which could close the business.

Still can't wait for the first powered flight to occur though!

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