The competition heats up: SpaceShipTwo successfully completed its third powered test flight today.
On release, SS2’s rocket motor was ignited, powering the spaceship to a planned altitude of 71,000 ft. – SS2’s highest altitude to date – and a maximum speed of Mach 1.4. SS2’s unique feather re-entry system was also tested during today’s flight. Two important SS2 systems, the RCS [reaction control system] and thermal protection coating, were tested during today’s flight in preparation for upcoming full space flights. The spaceship’s RCS will allow its pilots to maneuver the vehicle in space, permitting an optimal viewing experience for those on board and aiding the positioning process for spacecraft re-entry. The new reflective protection coating on SS2’s inner tail boom surfaces is being evaluated to help maintain vehicle skin temperatures while the rocket motor is firing.