SpaceShipTwo Achieves Milestone First 'Cold Flow' Test Flight
Oxidizer flows through SpaceShipTwo's rocket nozzle in flight for the first time on April 12. (Photo courtesy of MarsScientific.com)
Ground crews load nitrous oxide into SpaceShipTwo prior to the April 12 test flight. (Photo courtesy of Virgin Galactic/Mark Greenberg)
WhiteKnightTwo lifts SpaceShipTwo after takeoff on April 12. (Photo courtesy of Virgin Galactic)
April 15, 2013 - Private space tourism inched closer last week as test teams from Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic announced an important milestone in the development of SpaceShipTwo on Friday, April 12, at the Mojave Air and Space Port.
They performed SS2's first "cold flow" flight, described as the first airborne flow of oxidizer (nitrous oxide) "through the propulsion system and out through the aft nozzle." SS2 was loaded with the nitrous preflight while mated to WhiteKnightTwo. It was then lifted to altitude and released. The ensuing glide flight also completed the profile of SS2's first upcoming powered flight; all that was missing was igniting the rocket engine.
"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 stated in a news release.
"The test objectives were successfully met, advancing another important step toward powered flight," Virgin Galactic stated.