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  [Discuss] Virgin's SpaceShipTwo / WhiteKnightTwo (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   [Discuss] Virgin's SpaceShipTwo / WhiteKnightTwo
Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-01-2009 02:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Editor's note: To keep the topic Virgin-Scaled SpaceShipTwo / WhiteKnightTwo focused on status updates, feedback and opinions are directed to this thread.

Please use this topic to discuss the Virgin Galactic and its SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo suborbital launch system.

sthomas9999
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posted 12-01-2009 02:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for sthomas9999     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When will SpaceShipTwo finish testing and begin taking people into space?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-01-2009 02:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to the December issue of Wired Magazine ("Virgin Galactic's Space-Grazing Aircraft Is Ready for Liftoff"), "in a year, maybe two -- barring any test-flight glitches -- people who have the right financial stuff will be rocketing daily into space for a few minutes of sensory overload and ego gratification."

SpaceShipTwo flight tests are "slated to begin flight tests in early 2010."

The spacecraft will make its debut on Dec. 7. collectSPACE will be represented at the press preview and unveiling, and will have photographs and details to share.

ASCAN1984
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posted 12-08-2009 03:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ASCAN1984   Click Here to Email ASCAN1984     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is there a feather configuration with SpaceShipTwo? Quite hard to see where it would be.

328KF
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posted 12-08-2009 03:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes...the hinge line can be seen in that very first photo to the rear of the wingtip. It does not appear to have as much of the wing chord oriented vertically as SpaceShipOne did, but Rutan says that the low-wing configuration will be more stable than the high-wing of the first vehicle.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-08-2009 04:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This model of SpaceShipTwo (with full scale model of SpaceShipOne outside in the background) was on display at the unveiling, showing the feather configuration.


Credit: Robert Pearlman/collectSPACE.com

albatron
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posted 12-09-2009 09:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for albatron   Click Here to Email albatron     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Eerie how it resembles the X-20 Dynasoar, yet has aerodynamic differences.

MrSpace86
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posted 12-09-2009 10:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MrSpace86   Click Here to Email MrSpace86     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Was Mike Melvill not present at the unveiling? Did he officially "retire" from the program? If anyone has experience, it would be him.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-09-2009 11:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mike Melvill was at the reveal and was introduced along with Brian Binnie, Doug Shane and Peter Siebold (all skilled SpaceShipOne test pilots).

Melvill, 69, won't be able to serve as a commercial pilot for SpaceShipTwo due to the Federal Aviation Administration's age restrictions.

He retired from Scaled Composites as vice president and general manager in 2007.

328KF
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posted 12-09-2009 04:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That is one COOL looking flying machine!

Rutan once mentioned the fact that when his team won the X Prize, his flight was the only U.S. manned spaceflight that year.

It seems that this will once again be the case for several years once the shuttle retires, even if the COTS program progresses to flying crew members in the near future.

I can't justify $200K, so I guess I'll have to go work on my glider skills and polish the old resume...

dogcrew5369
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posted 12-10-2009 03:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dogcrew5369   Click Here to Email dogcrew5369     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is "VSS Enterprise" actually on the ship and does anyone know the reasons for christening SS2 Enterprise? Interesting that it will be the first "spaceship" named Enterprise. One day the Star Trek namesake may end up being a self-fulfilling prophesy! The future is here.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-10-2009 04:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You can see that the name VSS Enterprise appears on the ship in this photo of its nose art.

Will Whitehorn, president of Virgin Galactic, spoke about choosing the name at the press conference preceding the unveiling.

We had to find a name for our first SpaceShipTwo to take up and test the experimental mantle of this unique commercial project. But there was only one choice of name...

Two hundred fifty years ago, little did the sailors who captured the Frenchmen onboard called the Entre know the consequences when they added the English word 'prize' at the end. She became the Enterprise in the Royal Navy.

Nor did the U.S. Navy realize when they used the name Enterprise for a flagship and eventually an aircraft carrier that it would one day end up on one of the world's first space shuttles that was used in the early test program.

Neither, of course, did they realize that the name Enterprise would be honored in science fiction as well, and would become a watch word for the very concept of the human endeavor in space for generations to come.

So today I think it is fitting that our distinguished guests will be naming our first SpaceShipTwo the VSS Enterprise.

Now officially, VSS Enterprise stands for 'Virgin Space Ship Enterprise' but given the ambition of this project, I think that we will one day be calling it 'Virgin Star Ship Enterprise.'

parg1
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posted 06-25-2010 03:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for parg1   Click Here to Email parg1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Given the approach of WhiteKnight Two test flights, who are the likely crew?

From the flights of Spaceship Two, most Pilot - Co-Pilot flights have been by Siebold and Stuckey, with Nichols also a contender for WK2; however we also need an experienced flight crew in SS2 so we may well have a pilot-flight engineer crew on WK2 which would probably include Kalogiannis, Stinemetze or Maisler and one of the three pilots above.

Would some one like to play Rutan instead of Deke with this one?

parg1
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posted 10-06-2010 04:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for parg1   Click Here to Email parg1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
With regular flight testing of WK2 and SS2 occuring; the time when SS2 enters glide testing cannot be far away. Looking at crewing of past flights of WK2 and the two manned attached SS2 flights I would suggest that the likely crew for the glide tests are Pete Siebold (pilot) and Michael Alsbury (co-pilot). They have conducted both the manned attached SS2 tests and flown several missions together to harmonise crew proficiency on WK2 prior to the SS2 tests. The probable pilots for the WK2 launch crew are Mark Stuck (pilot) and Peter Kalogiannis (co-pilot) with Brian Maisler as Flight Test Engineer; although with the pool of available experienced Flight Test Engineers presently numbering 10 predicting the FTE for the first glide flight is open to question.

To date none of the British or American Pilots named for SS2 pilot training have been involved in any test flights, their participation probably commencing once sub-orbital testing is completed.

gliderpilotuk
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posted 10-11-2010 06:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Looking at the video and at the hot and steep approach and high round-out it must have the glide ratio of a brick.

cspg
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posted 10-11-2010 08:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Oh, I just looked at the photos and said to myself, if that's not a lot like the shuttle's Approach and Landing Tests... A brick is a brick.

gliderpilotuk
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posted 10-11-2010 10:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What's the strange animal sound at 2min 20secs in? Is that a goat on the runway?

ejectr
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posted 10-11-2010 11:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's someone saying... "Wow... wow!" in a very sedate voice.

Jay Chladek
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posted 10-11-2010 02:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If I ever get the funds to ride one of these (not likely), I am going to quote Bill Paxton's line from Aliens just before the drop ship launched: "We're on an express elevator to hell... going down!"

And of course, I'll do it right before launch.

SpaceAholic
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posted 10-12-2010 01:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting to see the gear are deployed on the WK2 at VSS release... additional drag needed to decelerate for the drop/separation clearance between the two vehicles?

tegwilym
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posted 10-12-2010 02:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I like that. I guess if you can see that happy face, the spacecraft had released and it was a happy day!

GoesTo11
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posted 10-12-2010 10:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jay Chladek:
I am going to quote Bill Paxton's line from Aliens just before the drop ship launched: "We're on an express elevator to hell... going down!"

Just hope you don't follow it up with "Game over, man...GAME OVER!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-13-2010 11:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by SpaceAholic:
Interesting to see the gear are deployed on the WK2 at VSS release...
From a Wired interview with SpaceShipTwo pilots Siebold and Alsbury:
Because of a recent landing gear issue with Eve that is still being resolved, the Scaled team elected to fly the mother ship with the gear down and locked throughout the entire flight. This limited the release height to 45,000 feet, the approximate ceiling of the aircraft in the gear down configuration at the weight flown on Sunday.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-13-2010 11:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by gliderpilotuk:
Looking at the video and at the hot and steep approach and high round-out it must have the glide ratio of a brick.
From the Wired interview (linked from the prior post):
Unlike its predecessor, SpaceShipOne, this space ship has a belly mounted speed brake that can be used to control the glide ratio of the descent portion of the flight. SpaceShipOne had a lift to drag ratio (L/D) of 7:1 during the descent. The only way that could be changed was by lowering the gear, which was done just before touchdown as there was no way to retract the gear once it was down. With the speed brake, pilots of SpaceShipTwo will be able to adjust the glide during the descent to account for changing winds and other variables Siebold says.

"It gives a tremendous amount of flexibility where you can change the L/D in real time during the descent and not only use the turn radius of the approach."

328KF
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posted 10-19-2010 10:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Did anyone watch the first part of the National Geographic Channel series last night on SS2? This took the program from inception up to the first glide flight.

It highlighted some of the technical issues with both aircraft. The rudder oscillations on the first flight of WK2 looked pretty interesting from the cockpit. And it appeared that the nose skid did not indicate down onboard SS2 on the glide flight.

Siebold said he was going to use the emergency deploy, but someone on the radio (sounded like Mike Melvill) told him it looked good from the chase plane.

I hope they put the series together on DVD when it is all done.

328KF
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posted 04-04-2011 04:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The BBC has posted a unique behind the scenes look at SpaceShipTwo, including the interior of the ship. Also a quick tour around Spaceport America under construction.

Lewis007
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posted 04-19-2011 06:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lewis007   Click Here to Email Lewis007     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceShipTwo flew into San Francisco International Airport (SFO) with its mothership WhiteKnightTwo on April 6 to mark the opening of the airport's new Terminal 2, where Virgin America – a California-based sister company to Virgin Galactic – will serve as an anchor tenant.

The Virgin America aircraft "My Other Ride Is a Spaceship" accompanied the SpaceShipTwo and its carrier into the airport.

Following the event (featuring amongst others, Richard Branson and Buzz Aldrin), WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo flew back to the Mojave base the following day.

dabolton
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posted 05-21-2011 11:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dabolton   Click Here to Email dabolton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That sure is dramatic when they do the feather. The attitude the pilots were in must have felt quite unnatural for a pilot. Quite gutsy flying in my opinion.

I saw White Knight 2 at OshKosh AirVenture 2 years ago; I wonder if both vehicles will show up this year. Do they have FAA permission to do a SS2 free flight test outside of Edwards? Could they do one at OshKosh?

gliderpilotuk
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posted 05-22-2011 10:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The deceleration looks dramatic but I suspect they bled a lot of the speed off first. Hard to tell without a reference point, bit I agree that it is gutsy (glider ) flying.

ilbasso
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posted 05-22-2011 10:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ilbasso   Click Here to Email ilbasso     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It oscillated when feathered more than I would have expected.

328KF
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posted 05-24-2011 02:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This article indicates that there may be some ongoing development issues with the engine program for SpaceShipTwo.
Stories circulated that engineers at Sierra Nevada Corporation were having a hard time scaling up the hybrid engine system from the small, X-1 sized SpaceShipOne prototype to its business jet sized successor. Oscillations sufficiently severe that nobody would want to ride the vehicle.

The stories have persisted and, if anything, have grown stronger. The latest one circulating in Mojave is that the test in March didn’t go well, and that the propulsion team has decided to abandon the hybrid rocket for a liquid system. There is also a confirmed report that Virgin Galactic has formed its own propulsion team and hired the former director of SpaceX’s Texas engine testing facility — and an expert in liquid propulsion — as a member of it.

328KF
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posted 06-10-2011 12:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And just like that, follows a very different version from VG on the engine development story:
Mark Sirangelo, head of Sierra Nevada Space Systems, the prime contractor for the SpaceShipTwo motors, told SPACE.com that progress is ongoing regarding development of the hybrid motor propulsion for the SpaceShipTwo program.

"Recently we conducted a firing of the motor which extended the burn duration by 30 percent and validated several of the important hardware systems," Sirangelo said. "We are preparing to shortly conduct another firing of the enhanced motor which will extend the burn duration and incorporate several additional important advances in the design.

This firing is expected to lead to final design of the motors for flight testing," he explained.

dabolton
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posted 04-14-2013 01:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dabolton   Click Here to Email dabolton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What is the current count of WK2 and SS2's that are completed or in production?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-23-2013 07:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Virgin Galactic has said it plans a fleet of two WhiteKnightTwo and as many as five SpaceShipTwo craft, though currently I believe only one of each exists (completed or in construction).

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-23-2013 07:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In an interview with the Las Vegas Sun, Richard Branson says SpaceShipTwo will make its first powered flight next week.
We're hoping to break the sound barrier. That's planned Monday [April 29]. It will be a historic day. This is going to be Virgin Galactic's year. We'll break the sound barrier Monday and from there, we build up through the rest of the year, finally going into space near the end of the year. I'll be on the first official flight, which we look to have in the first quarter of next year. We're doing a number of test flights into space first.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-29-2013 09:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
WhiteKnightTwo with pilot David Mackay and SpaceShipTwo with pilots Mark Stucky and Mike Alsbury took off from Mojave Air and Space Port at 7:02 a.m. PDT (10:02 a.m. EDT; 1402 GMT) Monday (April 29) on what is expected to be SpaceShipTwo's first powered test flight.

The commercial spacecraft may go supersonic today but will not cross into space. The first space shot is expected later this year after more powered test flights.

Virgin CEO Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides and SpaceShipTwo designer Burt Rutan are in Mojave to witness today's milestone.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-29-2013 09:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Virgin Galactic reported on Twitter:
For the first time ever, SpaceShipTwo has lit her rocket engine in flight! A major milestone in human spaceflight. Photos, video, and details to follow.
On-site reports suggest the engine burned for 13 seconds and that SpaceShipTwo is now gliding back to a landing.

Updates from Virgin Galactic:

Wheels stop — SpaceShipTwo safely on the ground after a triumphant day in the sky. So proud of our team!

Pilots Stucky and Alsbury confirm: SpaceShipTwo exceeded the speed of sound on today's flight!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-29-2013 12:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Now, this is what I call a launch photo! From SpaceShipTwo's boom camera:

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 04-29-2013 06:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Who's on the short list to pilot SS2 when it goes above 100 km on a test flight?

mode1charlie
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posted 04-29-2013 11:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mode1charlie   Click Here to Email mode1charlie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Now, this is what I call a launch photo!

No kidding. When I saw it this morning, I thought it was an artistic representation, not a real photo. If it weren't for the fact that it will soon (hopefully) be supplanted by even cooler images at even higher altitudes, I'd suggest that this one will become iconic.


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