Wil Whitehorn, president of Virgin Galactic, discusses the SpaceShipTwo testing programme -- upcoming glide tests are expected to include high-altitude drops to exercise the vehicle's 'feathered' high-drag re-entry configuration. The hybrid rocket motor will then be attached, followed by powered test flights of increasing duration. Progression to commercial flights will be dependent on assessment of the safety of the overall system and FAA licensing approval.
"There will be very short firings of the motor, and then we'll extend those burns and we'll start climbing into space," Whitehorn told SPACE.com. "I think we can pretty safely say now that we'll be in space in 2011. It's taken a little bit longer. But the point is that it has been done safely."
MOJAVE, CA, November 9, 2010 – The Spaceship Company (TSC) broke ground today for its new Final Assembly, Integration and Test Hangar today at Mojave Air & Space Port. TSC is a new aerospace production company, a joint venture between Virgin Group and Scaled Composites, a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman Corporation. TSC’s mission is to build the fleet of production SpaceShipTwos and WhiteKnightTwos for its customer Virgin Galactic.
The new building, a 68,000 square foot, clear span, 737-sized hangar including offices, will serve as TSC’s operating headquarters once complete and be used primarily for the final assembly, integration and testing of TSC’s vehicles before they enter service. The building is sized to support the production of two WhiteKnightTwos and at least two SpaceShipTwos in parallel.
Evaluate stability and control
Expand flutter envelope
All objectives achieved. Flew to more aggressive stall indication. Evaluated handling and stability through several maneuvers. Expanded envelope to 230 KEAS and 3g's. Roll evaluation. Full stop landing.
More details in Leonard David's report for Space.com:
A dedication ceremony was held at the Spaceport America site near Upham, New Mexico to mark the completion of the 3-kilometre main runway at the world's first purpose-built commercial passenger spaceport. WhiteKnightTwo, carrying the SpaceShipTwo spacecraft, made several overflights of the ceremony. The runway was named the Gov. Bill Richardson Spaceway after the New Mexico state governor.
The WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft and SpaceShipTwo will perform a flyover at the ceremony this Friday to mark the completion of the main runway at Spaceport America, near Upham, New Mexico.
"Friday's dedication ceremony also will feature a fly-over by Virgin Galactic's carrier plane and spaceship at Spaceport America, officials have said. WhiteKnightTwo passed over the Las Cruces International Airport in the summer of 2009, but Friday will mark the first visit of both vehicles to the spaceport." -- Las Cruces Sun