SpaceShipTwo glide flight a prelude to powered test flights

SS2 landing on 2014 Aug 28

SpaceShipTwo approaches the runway at Mojave Air and Space Port in California after its most recent test flight on August 28, 2014. (credit: Jason DiVenere/Scaled Composites)

Virgin Galactic flew SpaceShipTwo on Thursday, sending the suborbital vehicle on a glide flight above the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The purpose of the flight, [...]

Northrop Grumman (finally) reveals its XS-1 design

Northrop XS-1

An illustration of Northrop Grumman’s XS-1 concept. (credit: Northrop Grumman)

More than a month after DARPA formally announced the winners of Phase 1 contracts for its Experimental Spaceplane 1 (XS-1) program, the last of the three companies that received those contracts unveiled the design of the concept.

In a press release Tuesday, Northrop Grumman [...]

Branson suggests SpaceShipTwo powered flight tests to resume in next few weeks

SS2 3rd powered flight

SpaceShipTwo fires its hybrid rocket engine during its third powered test flight on January 10, 2014. The next powered test flight, using a new hybrid rocket motor, may take place within weeks. (credit: Virgin Galactic)

It’s been more than seven months since SpaceShipTwo last flew under rocket power, a hiatus linked in large part [...]

SpaceShipTwo returns to the skies

SS2 and WK2 taxi

SpaceShipTwo, attached to its WhiteKnightTwo carrier airplane, taxies before takeoff on its latest test flight July 29. (credit: Virgin Galactic)

For the first time in more than six months, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo flew on Tuesday, albeit not under rocket power. The vehicle made its 29th glide flight, with pilots Michael Masucci and Pete Siebold [...]

DARPA announces XS-1 study contracts

Boeing XS-1 design

Boeing’s concept for the XS-1 spaceplane, one of three selected by DARPA for Phase 1 studies. (credit: Boeing)

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced Tuesday it has awarded study contracts to three teams, representing a mix of established and entrepreneurial space companies, to study concepts for a reusable suborbital spaceplane.

DARPA said [...]

Report claims Google considering investing in Virgin Galactic

Illustration of Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne igniting its first stage engine after being dropped from WhiteKnightTwo. Google’s reported interest in Virgin Galactic likely centers on this smallsat launch system Virgin is developing. (credit: Virgin Galactic)

In the latest evidence that the search engine giant is taking an increased interest in space, British broadcaster Sky News [...]

Virgin Galactic changes fuels as it prepares for its next round of test flights

A hybrid engine using polyamide, or plastic, fuel is tested by Virgin Galactic on May 8. Virgin plans to use this in place of the rubber-based fuel originally developed to launch SpaceShipTwo into space. (credit: Virgin Galactic)

After many months of speculation, including sightings of engine tests at the Mojave Air and Space Port [...]

Virgin responds to reports about WK2, altitude

After the The Sunday Times of London reported issues with the wings of the company’s WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) carrier aircraft, and the possibility that SpaceShipTwo (SS2) may fall short of the 100-kilometer “Kármán line,” the company has responded in a couple of ways. On the WK2 issue, the company tweeted a photo of WK2 on the [...]

Report raises new questions about Virgin Galactic

SpaceShipTwo fires its hybrid rocket engine during its third powered test flight on January 10, 2014. The next powered test flight of the vehicle is unlikely to take place before some time in June as its carrier aircraft undergoes repairs, according to a report. (credit: Virgin Galactic)

It’s been a little more than a [...]

Branson promises commercial SS2 flights this year, and a UAE spaceport soon

SpaceShipTwo fires its hybrid rocket engine during its third powered test flight on January 10, 2014. (credit: Virgin Galactic)

All has been quiet on the SpaceShipTwo test flight front in recent weeks, after the vehicle’s third powered test flight a month ago and a glide test a week later. Despite the lack of public [...]