A Niche in Time: One Chute

SpaceShipTwo after being released for its final flight on March 31, 2014. (Credit: Virgin Galactic/NTSB)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Pete Siebold and Mike Alsbury heard the sound of hooks disengaging and felt a sharp jolt as SpaceShipTwo was released from its WhiteKnightTwo mother ship. Relieved of a giant weight, WhiteKnightTwo shot upward as the spacecraft plunged toward the desert floor.

“Fire,” Siebold said as the shadow of one of WhiteKnightTwo’s wings passed across the cabin.

“Arm,” Alsbury responded. “Fire.”

The pilots were pushed back into their seats as SpaceShipTwo’s nylon-nitrous oxide hybrid engine ignited behind them, sending the ship soaring skyward on a pillar of flames.

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Space Propulsion Group Tests Advanced Hybrid Motor

BUTTE, Mont. — Space Propulsion Group, Inc. (SPG) today successfully completed a major technology development test of its 22-inch-diameter, Liquid Oxygen/paraffin-based advanced hybrid rocket motor. This cutting-edge hybrid propulsion technology has practical applications for numerous space-related industries, including transportation, defense, suborbital research and tourism.

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