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Virgin Galactic's suborbital SpaceShipTwo successfully conducted its first "cold flow" flight test above the Mojave Desert last Friday (April 12). During the test, oxidizer was run through the rocket's propulsion system and out the back nozzle of the ship, though the vehicle's rocket engine was not turned on.
"As well as providing further qualifying evidence that the rocket system is flight-ready, the test also provided a stunning spectacle due to the oxidizer contrail and for the first time gave a taste of what SpaceShipTwo will look like as it powers to space," Virgin Galactic officials wrote in a statement.
During the most recent test — which comes on the heels of the ship's 24th successful drop test on April 3 — the space plane was flown high into the sky by WhiteKnightTwo, its carrier aircraft. After being released from the plane, SpaceShipTwo glided smoothly back to the ground, leaving a contrail of oxidizer in its wake.
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