Galactic and Scaled
Composites have been developing the
(SS2) suborbital rocket vehicle and the
(WK2) carrier aircraft for several years.
At a price of $200,000 (recently raised
to $250,000) nearly 700 people have reserved
seats on the 6 passenger/2 pilot vehicle
for rides to above the 100 kilometer edge
Last April above Mojave, California, the
SS2 finally fired its hybrid rocket motor
after release from the WK2 at 14 kilometers
altitude. The rocket burned for 16 seconds
and the vehicle soon exceeded the speed
of sound and rose to about 17 km. After
the engine shut down the vehicle gilded
safely back to earth.
It was widely expected that this flight
would soon be followed by a series of test
flights, at least one per month, in which
the rocket motor will burn for longer and
longer periods until the vehicle reaches
100 km. However, there were no more powered
SS2 flights until September 5th. The videos
below show that flight in which the rocket
motor burned for 20 seconds and the vehicle
reached Mach 1.43 and 21 km in altitude.
After the burn was completed the crew activated
mechanism in which the wings bend upwards
and the vehicle falls in a V orientation.
This allows the vehicle to act like a badminton
shuttlecock and maintain a safe orientation
during its return into the dense atmosphere
on its space flights.
We can hope the SS2 is now ready to begin
regular test flights and will reach space
by late this year or early next year. The
company managers have said they hope to
begin commercial operations in 2014.