It’s funny. You see the most interesting things driving into Mojave sometimes. Driving in on Highway 14 this morning, I saw that WhiteKnightTwo was down at the end of the runway, as I had expected. I new a flight was planned, so I got up early.
Then I noticed it seemed to be getting bigger and a whole bunch of dust getting kicked up. Hey! That thing’s taking off. So, I pulled over to the side of the road and snapped a few photos as it flew overhead.
WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo are pretty amazing vehicles to look at. You don’t get tired of watching them take off.
For this flight, I decided to drive up to Koehn Lake, which is a dry lake bed that’s probably 20 miles or so north of Mojave. I figured it would be a good spot to try to get some photos of the drop.
It would have been, had my camera been cooperation. But, it picked a fine time to go not cooperate with me. I did get a few shots of the release with my cell phone.
SpaceShipTwo was venting something, but I saw no flames nor did I hear the rumbling across the desert that accompanies a powered flight. It was fairly silent out there, except for the distant drone of WhiteKnightTwo’s engine. [UPDATE: Virgin Galactic confirms that the test was a cold flow of gasses used in powered flight.]
Virgin Galactic Tweeted that it was “an in-flight test of #SpaceShipTwo’s ‘plumbing’ – the pressurization system for the rocket motor.” It’s also a dress rehearsal for the next powered flight, which the company promises is “coming soon.”
That flight will likely come in September. I’m looking forward to it.