More on SpaceShipTwo drop test
December 20 2012 07:24:32 PM |
Leonard David writes about yesterday's SS2 glide flight: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Passes Key Flight Test - Space.com
He talked with Virgin Galactic chief George Whitesides:
"We had a variety of systems newly installed on the vehicle," Whitesides told SPACE.com. "The most important were the components of the rocket system, including all the flight-ready tanks and valves. But we also flew with flight-ready thermal protection materials on the leading edges of the vehicle for the first time," he said.
"We still have a bit more work to do before we will be ready to ignite the rocket, including two more glide flights," Whitesides said. "2013 will be a big year," he said.
From the emphasis on "components" in the press release and in George's comments, it seems clear that a complete working motor has not yet been installed. The major components, particularly the tanks, are now there so they can see how their mass affects the SS2's flying characteristics.
Some pictures from Bill Deaver:
Note that this image shows a pipe in the center of the nozzle. Doug at PA says
The pipe might be used for cold flows of the nitrous oxide without saturating the fuel grain in the solid part of the motor.