Report: SpaceShipTwo to make second powered flight today

SS2 first powered flight

SpaceShipTwo during its first powered test flight on April 29, 2013. (credit: Virgin Galactic/

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle will reportedly make its second powered test flight, and first in more than four months, on Thursday morning. Parabolic Arc, based on Mojave, reported Wednesday night on the expected test flight, with SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo being prepared outside their hangar during the day.

If correct, the flight will be the first powered flight for SpaceShipTwo since its inaugural rocket-powered flight on April 29. The long gap since that flight had raised questions in the commercial spaceflight community about whether there were technical issues of some kind with SpaceShipTwo or its hybrid rocket motor; SS2 has performed two glide flights since that April test, most recently on August 8.

On August 16, Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said the company was “gearing up” for its second powered flight test, although he did not give a timeframe then for when it would take place. He said the second and following test flights would feature progressively longer burn times of SS2’s motor; the April test fired the engine for 16 seconds. “Then we’ll do a few more test missions early next year to simulate the customer experience, then we should be ready to start commercial service,” he said. The SS2 powered test flight program would likely be no more than 20 flights, he said last month, adding that there was not a specific number of flights planned and that the actual number would depend on the progress made during the test program.

Update 12:45 pm: The test flight did take place today, and was a success, according to a Virgin Galactic tweet:

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