Phenomena

SpaceShipTwo Lights It Up

Monday morning Virgin Galactic and their partners at Scaled Composites reached a new milestone in their commercial sub-orbital spaceflight program, firing SpaceShipTwo’s main engine for the first time and accelerating to supersonic speeds. The upper image shows hints of Mach diamonds, formed by a series of shock waves and expansions, in its exhaust. This is very common for rockets since most have a fixed geometry, and, by extension, a fixed Mach number and exhaust pressure. (Photo credits: Virgin Galactic and Mars Scientific)

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