Second SpaceShipTwo almost ready for flight

The heat of competition: Virgin Galactic today released hanger photos of the almost finished second SpaceShipTwo.

Even as the investigation into the fatal breakup of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo rocket plane continues in Mojave, California, the next SpaceShipTwo is more than halfway complete in a Mojave hangar — and is expected to start going through tests on the ground and in the air next year.

Virgin Galactic’s manufacturing subsidiary, The Spaceship Company, has been working on the plane for two and a half years. It’s variously known as SpaceShipTwo Tail No. 2 or N202VG, and it’s part of Virgin Galactic plan to have a fleet of five SpaceShipTwo rocket planes and two WhiteKnightTwo carrier planes.

This story is a great example of the public relations genius of Richard Branson. Even with the pieces of SpaceShipTwo still being picked up on the ground he finds a way to sell his company positively to the world. They not only intend to continue their effort, they have the ship to prove it!

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 hosts an industry day at New Mexico spaceport

Virgin Galactic announced today that it will co-host an industry day at Spaceport America in New Mexico on October 18 in order to locate suppliers for its space tourism business.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for companies ranging from local New Mexico firms to national corporations to understand our unique needs for goods and services, including our requirements in building and servicing multiple commercial spaceships as the market further develops,” said Virgin Galactic’s President and CEO George Whitesides. “Our intention is to establish these relationships and emphasize our desire to hire locally as much as possible.”