A camera mounted on the WhiteKnightTwo carrier airplane shows SpaceShipTwo falling away just before its rocket firing on Friday over California's Mojave Desert.
These scenes may look like computer-generated spaceship shots for a summer sci-fi movie — but they're totally real photos taken during Friday's test flight of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo rocket plane.
Cameras were mounted on the exterior of SpaceShipTwo as well as its carrier airplane, WhiteKnightTwo, to monitor the rocket engine's performance. And yes, to get some way-cool video, too. Check out the photos taken while SpaceShipTwo zoomed over California's Mojave Desert — then watch the clip from NBC Nightly News.
WhiteKnightTwo's camera shows SpaceShipTwo's rocket engine lighting up.
A camera mounted on one of SpaceShipTwo's tail booms shows the blast of the plane's hybrid rocket engine.
A camera looking back over SpaceShipTwo's fuselage shows the rocket burn with a Mojave Desert vista in the background.
In a 90-minute flight over the Mojave desert in California, Richard Branson's team flew SpaceShipTwo to 71,000 feet.
More about SpaceShipTwo:
- SpaceShipTwo hits new heights during test
- Slideshow: The making of SpaceShipTwo
- NBC News archive on Virgin Galactic
NBCUniversal has established a multi-platform partnership with Virgin Galactic to track the development of SpaceShipTwo and televise its inaugural commercial spaceflight. Virgin Galactic is owned by Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi's Aabar Investments PJS.
Alan Boyle is NBCNews.com's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the NBC News Science Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter and adding +Alan Boyle to your Google+ circles. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.