SpaceShipTwo has made its first flight with its rocket, a significant milestone even if the engine didn’t actually fire.
Wednesday’s test by the team at Scaled Composites was a glide flight, the first with the rocket motor components, including tanks, installed. It was the 23rd flight of SpaceShipTwo, and Virgin Galactic has long said its first powered flight would come by the end of the year.
“It was also the first flight with thermal protection applied to the spaceship’s leading edges,” Virgin said in a statement. “It followed an equally successful test flight last Friday which saw SpaceShipTwo fly in this configuration but remain mated to its WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft.”