Tag Archives: WhiteKnightTwo

In an effort to reassure its ticketholders, Virgin Galactic sent them email on May 10 disputing the story that they have discovered cracks in WhiteKnightTwo.

In an effort to reassure its ticketholders, Virgin Galactic sent them an email on May 10 disputing the article that said there are cracks in WhiteKnightTwo’s wings.

The email was interestingly sent before the article was published, which of course meant that it could not directly address any of its findings.

The story above also has a link to an article detailing the many predictions by Virgin Galactic about when they will begin commercial flights, going back to 1999. To put it mildly, their track record has not been good.

On Tuesday Virgin Galactic rolled WhiteKnightTwo out of its hanger “as part of a gearing up process.”.

Is it cracked or not? On Tuesday Virgin Galactic rolled WhiteKnightTwo out of its hanger “as part of a gearing up process.”.

Though the above article is very vague about what is being done, this article explains that they are doing taxi tests of new landing gear. The timing, however, makes me suspect that this is also a public relations ploy to counter yesterday’s reports about cracks in the vehicle’s wings.

A news story today reports that cracks have been discovered in the wings of WhiteKnightTwo.

More problems for Virgin Galactic: A news story today reports that cracks have been discovered in the wings of WhiteKnightTwo.

Sources tell me the cracks are along the spars that run the length of the wings. Specifically, they are located where the spars connect with the fuselage. My sources tell me the cracks have caused quite a bit of concern among the engineers at Virgin and Scaled. One particularly worrisome aspect is that nobody knows why or when they occurred.

I’m told there is some comfort in the repairs being made based on previous Scaled experience in patching composites. However, since the cause of the cracks is uncertain and WhiteKnightTwo is unique in terms of its size and the stresses placed on it by SpaceShipTwo, the engineers are in uncharted territory. They don’t know if they have addressed the root cause, or whether the problem will reoccur.

If this story turns out to be trie, it will likely be a disaster for Virgin Galactic. Not only can they not yet fly SpaceShipTwo because of engine issues, the mother ship that puts the spacecraft into the air can’t fly either.

From Virgin Galactic come two announcements today

The competition heats up: From Virgin Galactic come two announcements today:

The second is really the big news, especially as it appears they already have some customers.

LauncherOne will be a two-stage vehicle capable of carrying up to 500 pounds (225 kilograms) to orbit for prices below $10 million. The rocket will be launched from Virgin Galactic’s proven WhiteKnightTwo, the uniquely capable aircraft also designed to carry SpaceShipTwo aloft to begin her suborbital missions. Thanks to the extreme flexibility of air launch, Virgin Galactic’s customers will enjoy reduced infrastructure costs in addition to the wide range of possible launch locations tailored to individual mission requirements and weather conditions. Branson and other senior executives announced that work has already begun on the vehicle.

SpaceShipTwo was in the air on Friday, as WhiteKnightTwo did a 1.5 hour test flight with the ship attached to its belly.

The competition heats up: SpaceShipTwo was in the air on Friday, as WhiteKnightTwo did a 1.5 hour test flight with the ship attached to its belly.

This was the second flight of WhiteKnightTwo in three days, and is in line with Virgin Galactic’s test flight schedule announced in May. If the test flights go well, expect that first rocket-powered flight of SpaceShipTwo later this year.

Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser to get its first test flight in the summer of 2012

Dream Chaser, Sierra Nevada’s space plane, is to get its first test flight this coming summer.

For the unmanned test flight, it will be carried into the skies by WhiteKnightTwo, the carrier aircraft for the commercial suborbital passenger ship SpaceShipTwo, backed by Virgin Galactic, a U.S. company owned by Richard Branson’s London-based Virgin Group.

Test flights of SpaceShipTwo resume

After a summer break, the flight tests of SpaceShipTwo have resumed. Thursday’s test appeared to a bit more exciting that previous flights:

Test card called for releasing the Spaceship from WhiteKnightTwo and immediately entering a rapid descent. Upon release, the Spaceship experienced a downward pitch rate that caused a stall of the tails. The crew followed procedure, selecting the feather mode to revert to a benign condition. The crew then defeathered and had a nominal return to base. Great flying by the team and good demo of feather system.

Virgin Galactic aims for its first launch of SpaceShipTwo within a year

Virgin Galactic expects to make its first launch of SpaceShipTwo within a year.

“The mother ship is finished… The rocket tests are going extremely well, and so I think that we’re now on track for a launch within 12 months of today,” [Richard Branson] told CNN’s Piers Morgan late Wednesday.

SpaceShipTwo’s First “Feathered” Flight

SpaceShipTwo’s has successfully completed its first “feathered” flight.

After a 45 minute climb to the desired altitude of 51,500 feet, SpaceShip2 (SS2) was released cleanly from VMS Eve [WhiteKnightTwo] and established a stable glide profile before deploying, for the first time, its re-entry or “feathered” configuration by rotating the tail section of the vehicle upwards to a 65 degree angle to the fuselage. It remained in this configuration with the vehicle’s body at a level pitch for approximately 1 minute and 15 seconds whilst descending, almost vertically, at around 15,500 feet per minute, slowed by the powerful shuttlecock-like drag created by the raised tail section. At around 33,500 feet the pilots reconfigured the spaceship to its normal glide mode and executed a smooth runway touch down, approximately 11 minutes and 5 seconds after its release from VMS Eve.