This weekend marked the six month anniversary of the tragic loss of Michael Alsbury during the VSS Enterprise's 55th test flight. Over those six months, we've made steady progress towards advancing the dream of opening the space frontier, an extremely difficult but also extremely worthwhile endeavor.
While our satellite launch team has been hard at work at our new facility in Long Beach, our human spaceflight program in Mojave has been making progress on building the second SpaceShipTwo. That new vehicle — which has not yet been formally named, though it's had various internal nicknames over the years — is coming along at a steady pace, thanks to the efforts of the women and men in our manufacturing organization, The Spaceship Company.
Our growing team is large enough to allow us to press forward both quickly and safely, and starting several months ago now have been working on the second SpaceShipTwo in three shifts, spanning days, nights, and weekends. In recent weeks, we've finished the final cure cycle of the main cabin (pictured above), closed out the main portions of the wings, and completed other important steps in the build plan.
Soon, we hope to take our new spaceship off of the construction fixtures and place her onto her own landing gear for the first time — a big milestone for the team. Of course, that moment marks not an end but rather another beginning. The spaceship will remain in our hangar for some time after that, occasionally moving back onto and back off the fixture as our crews continue installing new items and testing and verifying every piece of the craft. Only when our engineers, technicians, and safety officers are satisfied will the vehicle begin testing.
Our hope is that the second SpaceShipTwo will enter into testing later this year, beginning with ground testing, then progressing through captive carry flights, glide flights, and eventually powered flights to progressively higher speeds and altitudes.