The SS2 Drop Test

As Clark Lindsey reports, there was a drop test of SpaceShipTwo, that had some, but apparently not all of the propulsion system installed. I wonder if it was carrying fuel? One of the issues I discuss in my book is its ability to abort with a failed ignition, because while it can dump the oxidizer, it’s not possible to get rid of the rubber slug. Steve Isakowitz told me that it is designed to land with a fuel load, from a CG/weight standpoint, so it would be interesting to see if they demonstrated that ability.

17 thoughts on “The SS2 Drop Test”

  1. Actually most of us have been following it with crossed fingers for quite some time. It is a start. But there are still difficulties with MTCR must be addressed through treaties and that have some bad consequences for the entire industry.

    1. Dale,

      Yes, but being part of the Defense Bill makes it prospects for passage good. Especially if folks write their Congress critters on it :-)

      1. “Yes, but being part of the Defense Bill makes it prospects for passage good.”

        I hate this aspect of Congressional operation. While it’s a great thing to write your Congresscritter, I don’t like all these linkages between two totally unrelated things in bills just to get the bill passed.

        It’s very bad for the nation – no matter whether the thing passed is something I like or do not like.

          1. I probably shouldn’t have used the word “totally”.

            Those two bills ought be voted upon individually and separately.

  2. Nitrous hybrids run with a pretty high O/F ratio, so it makes perfect sense to be able to fly within CG limits with an unburned fuel slug.

      1. Suborbital? Horrors, no!

        I’m curious, Brock. How many hours have you logged in space? How many do you expect to log on Falcon Heavy?

        I’m constantly amazed at how many space activists profess to be completely bored by real spaceflight because it doesn’t live up to an ideal which they’ve only seen on television.

        And what’s so interesting about Falcon Heavy? Even if works, it’s still substellar! :-)

  3. I take it that the cost benefit analysis showed that exchanging extra fuel used to land the (first?) stage, for payload is, in the end, a winner because you don’t throw the “airplane” (airline analogy) away?

    1. did some googling and answered my question. Saw Rad’s PM article of Feb 7th.

      Question: Do the first stage engines fire all the time between staging and landing? The SpaceX video avoids that detail.

      1. If SpaceX isn’t saying, all we can do is speculate. After staging, they could use aerodynamic braking to reduce the first stage’s forward velocity somewhat. Having burned off most of the propellant and gotten rid of the upper stage and payload, they wouldn’t need nearly so much thrust as needed for liftoff. I think they plan on only using the center engine for flyback and landing. Personally, I think it makes more sense to not try to return to the launch site but instead land somewhere downrange like an island or perhaps a platform (kind of like Sea Launch in reverse). If they build their proposed launch site near Brownsville, Texas, they could continue across the Gulf of Mexico and land on the west coast of Florida, say near Clearwater. That’s less than 800 nautical miles (~1475 km) and there could be suitable landing sites in Florida that are even closer to the launch site. For that flight profile, the first stage might continue firing after staging to obtain enough velocity to fly to the landing site on a ballistic trajectory. It’d then use aerodynamic braking and thrust to slow down and land. But that’s just speculation on my part.

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