SpaceShipTwo Moves Closer to Space Travel with Cold Flow Test

Spacecraft preps for first rocket-powered flight.

SpaceShipTwo

SpaceShipTwo

** SpaceShipTwo**

SpaceShipTwo took one step further last week in its mission to carry paying passengers into space, completing a “cold flow” test in anticipation of its upcoming first powered flight.

During the cold flow test, oxidizer was pulsed through the propulsion system and out the back of the vehicle, marking the sky with an eye-catching oxidizer contrail as SpaceShipTwo glided back to Earth above the Mojave Desert. According to Virgin Galactic, all objectives were successfully met during the test.

The cold flow flight comes as Virgin Galactic prepares for its most monumental test to date — its first powered flight. To that end, the company also recently completed a nitrous venting and featuring test, and reps say that all data to date shows that SpaceShipTwo’s rocket propulsion system is flight ready.

More than 550 prospective space travelers have signed up for seats on SpaceShipTwo, which go for $200,000 apiece. If all goes according to plan, the flights will begin with SpaceShipTwo attached to WhiteKnightTwo, which will climb to 50,000 feet before separating. SpaceShipTwo’s rocket propulsion system will then carry it to suborbital altitudes as high as 68 miles from Earth, where the spaceship’s six passengers and two crewmembers will experience five minutes of weightlessness before returning to terra firma.