SpaceShipTwo, the suborbital vehicle under development by Virgin Galactic and its partner Scaled Composites, has been on the verge of beginning powered flights for a few months now, after performing a glide flight in a “powered flight configuration” in December. There’s been little news from Virgin since then, until a blog post today by Sir Richard Branson himself about a first-of-its-kind nighttime test of SpaceShipTwo’s rocket motor. Much of the blog post is a description of the February 28th test written by Matt Stinemetze, the Scaled program manager for SS2. The key item from the post is at the end, where Stinemetze writes that this test was the “first in a rapid series of final confirmation firings leading up to SpaceShipTwo’s first rocket powered flight.”
The test doesn’t yet appear on the RocketMotorTwo flight test log maintained by Scaled, where the last test is from Janaury 24. The description also doesn’t mention the length of the burn or other details, other than it appeared to be a success. The fact that the test merited a blog post, though, and by Branson himself, suggests a growing level of confidence that this first SS2 powered flight will finally be coming soon.