Exclusive Pictures: SpaceShipTwo Engine Test Firing in Mojave

Nitrous nylon engine test on Jan. 16, 2014. (Credit: Ken Brown)
Nitrous nylon engine test on Jan. 16, 2014. (Credit: Ken Brown)

Ken Brown captured these spectacular photos of a hybrid engine test at the Mojave Air and Space Port on Thursday afternoon. Scaled Composites conducted the hot fire of the nylon-nitrous oxide engine, which is being tested as an alternative to the rubber-nitrous oxide that Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo has used for three test flights, sources say.

Nitrous nylon engine test on Jan. 16, 2014. (Credit: Ken Brown)
Nitrous nylon engine test on Jan. 16, 2014. (Credit: Ken Brown)

Scaled is developing SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo for Sir Richard Branson’s spaceline, which is supposed to begin commercial operations from Spaceport America in New Mexico by the end of the year.

Nitrous nylon engine test on Jan. 16, 2014. (Credit: Ken Brown)
Nitrous nylon engine test on Jan. 16, 2014. (Credit: Ken Brown)

The test today lasted longer than 30 seconds. View a video that captured most of the hot fire.

Nitrous nylon engine test on Jan. 16, 2014. (Credit: Ken Brown)
Nitrous nylon engine test on Jan. 16, 2014. (Credit: Ken Brown)

Scaled has been conducting tests on the nylon-nitrous engine since at least last May, according to sources.