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
"I offer my congratulations to all those on our commercial manned sub-orbital spaceship program for yesterday’s milestone first flight of SpaceShipTwo.
Configuration/aerodynamic designer, Jim Tighe got it right the first time; our spaceship demonstrated impressive flying qualities right out of... the box. Its flight test-measured stability and gliding performance exceeded the pre-flight predictions.
Systems that usually require post-first flight tweaking, like the unique Michael Fuchs-designed landing gear and the SS1-based flight-director/avionics system, developed by the Pete Kalogiannis-led team, performed to perfection. The flight control, electrical, pneumatic, ECS and launch systems were also flawless on the first flight, giving us confidence that we can move forward with the testing without major modifications. Scot Story’s team also deserves kudos for their work to develop a light, robust all-composite airframe structure.
Flown by both pilot Pete Siebold and co-pilot Mike Alsbury on the first flight, the test crew opened up two thirds of SS2’s required subsonic speed envelope, maneuvered it above 2-g, checked its dynamic and sideslip handling, exercised its flight-path control system and made a perfect landing; spot-on the runway target.
I congratulate Project Lead Matt Stinemetze, Mission Control Lead Brian Binnie and their team of talented engineers as well as Crew Chief Steve Losey and his team of fabricators who built and maintain the first commercial manned space system. There is not a better group of research and flight test talent in the world.
We at Scaled look forward to an aggressive flight test schedule. The fun started on 10/10/10 and will continue as we reach our goal of passing onto our customer a spaceship capable to provide the space experience to thousands of adventurers."
Evaluate stability and control
Expand flutter envelope
All objectives achieved. Very positive and controllable release from mothership at 46,000 ft. Slowed to first stall indication. Pilots evaluated the handling and stability through several maneuvers. Expanded envelope to 322KTAS and 2g's. Evaluated performance with speed brake in and out. Full stop landing executed to the target aim point. Great flying airplane (spaceplane). We'd like to thank our team and all at Virgin who've enabled us to get back in the low aspect ratio glider business.
First Commercial Spaceline Makes History with Successful Flight and Launches New National Geographic Channel Series Virgin Galactic
Four-Part Series Follows Maverick Entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson and Legendary Aeronautical Engineer Burt Rutan on Their Quest to Create the World’s First Commercial Manned Spaceship
Virgin Galactic Premieres Monday, October 18, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on National Geographic Channel
(WASHINGTON, D.C. / MOJAVE, CALIF. — OCTOBER 11, 2010) History was made Sunday, October 10, on the path to the launch of the first commercial spaceliner with news of the first successful glide involving the mother ship, WhiteKnightTwo, and smaller spaceship, the VSS Enterprise, which safely separated at an altitude of 40,000 feet before returning to earth. The process of reaching this milestone has been documented for the premiere of National Geographic Channel’s (NGC) highly anticipated four-part series, Virgin Galactic, which is documenting the historic process and milestones leading up to the first commercial space flight.
Premiering Monday, October 18, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NGC, Virgin Galactic provides exclusive documentary coverage of maverick entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson and legendary aeronautical engineer Burt Rutan as they strive to be first to make space tourism an everyday reality. For Rutan and his skilled team, this is the first real moment of truth. Also included in the premiere episode will be the backstory of the venture, including Rutan’s win of the Ansari X Prize with SpaceShipOne and WhiteKnightOne.
“This series represents what we are all about — historic drama and adventure,” commented Steve Burns, NGC’s executive vice president of content. “We are honored to provide people with a window into the historic work of the incredible team at Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites as well as the vision of Burt Rutan and Richard Branson, whose drive and passion promise to make space travel a reality.”
Tom Brisley, executive producer for Darlow Smithson Productions (DSP), added, “Over the next two years we will be there every step of the way to document what is set to be one of the most significant breakthroughs in space travel history.”
Over the next two years the project will pass a series of ambitious milestones, each a groundbreaking development toward the first commercial space flights. The show will document the pioneers in space tourism, Virgin’s pilots and crew, and their first passengers — with plans calling for 50,000 ordinary people to travel into space in the first 10 years of operation.
Other episodes will include SpaceShipTwo’s first rocket-powered flight; following Rutan, Branson and his two children as they make preparations for their historic flight; and being there as the spaceliner’s first passengers take their incredible trip.
The series is produced for the National Geographic Channel by Darlow Smithson Productions. Executive producer for DSP is Tom Brisley. For the National Geographic Channel, executive producer is Noah Morowitz, senior vice president of production is Michael Cascio and executive in charge of production is Steve Burns. The series will be distributed by Endemol Worldwide Distribution.
For more information, visit natgeotv.com/space or www.virgingalactic.com.
National Geographic Channel
Based at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., the National Geographic Channel (NGC) is a joint venture between National Geographic Ventures (NGV) and Fox Cable Networks (FCN). Since launching in January 2001, NGC initially earned some of the fastest distribution growth in the history of cable and more recently the fastest ratings growth in television. The network celebrated its fifth anniversary in January 2006 with the launch of NGC HD, which provides the spectacular imagery that National Geographic is known for in stunning high definition. NGC has carriage with all of the nation's major cable and satellite television providers, making it currently available in more than 70 million homes. For more information, please visit www.natgeotv.com.
Darlow Smithson Productions (DSP)
DSP is one of the world’s leading independent production companies. The company has an unsurpassed reputation for producing high-quality television programs for U.K., U.S. and international broadcasters, and has achieved worldwide industry recognition for its groundbreaking output. The company is proud to have received more than 40 industry awards, including recognition from BAFTA, The Royal Television Society and the U.S. Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. From its base in London, and offices in New York and Singapore, the team works across a wide range of nonfiction television — from prestigious single feature-length documentaries to flagship series and from long-running popular formats to high-end factually based drama. DSP has unrivalled experience in high-definition production. The company also specializes in the use of advanced computer graphics and quality dramatic re-enactment and is an acknowledged leader in theatrical documentary.
DSP is part of Endemol, a world leading content provider with a global network of 80 companies in 26 countries including the United States, the U.K., Spain, Italy, France, Germany and the Netherlands, as well as Latin America, India, South Africa and Australia. The company annually produces nearly 40,000 hours of original content across 400 broadcasters and cross-media platforms.
Virgin Galactic's Spaceshiptwo Achieves Major Milestone In Its Program To Become World's First Manned Commercial Space Vehicle
VSS Enterprise achieves manned free flight from over 45,000 ft (13,700 metres) and successfully glides in 11 minutes to land at Mojave Air and Spaceport
10th October 2010, Mojave, CA. Virgin Galactic, developing the world’s first commercial manned space flight system and tourism business, is delighted to announce the successful completion today of the first piloted free flight of SpaceShipTwo, named the VSS Enterprise. The spaceship was released from its mothership at an altitude of 45,000 ft
During its first flight the spaceship was piloted by Pete Siebold, assisted by Mike Alsbury as co-pilot. The two main goals of the flight were to carry out a clean release of the spaceship from its mothership and for the pilots to free fly and glide back and land at Mojave Air and Space Port in California.
Other detailed objectives of the flight were successfully completed, including; verification that all systems worked prior and following the clean release of Enterprise; initial evaluation of handling and stall characteristics; qualitative evaluation of stability and control of SS2 against predictions from design and simulation work; verification of performance by evaluating the lift-to-drag ratio of the spaceship during glide flight; practice a landing approach at altitude and finally descend and land.
Preparations for the milestone flight were extensive. The WhiteKnightTwo mothership (Eve) flew 40 times including 4 captive carry flights of spaceship and mothership mated together. The most recent captive carry was on Sept 30th. The most recent solo flight was on October 5th and demonstrated that all the systems required for a free flight by the VSS Enterprise were functioning correctly without any safety issues. Commenting on the successful flight Scaled Composites pilot, Pete Siebold, said “The VSS Enterprise was a real joy to fly, especially when one considers the fact that the vehicle has been designed not only to be a Mach 3.5 spaceship capable of going into space but also one of the worlds highest altitude gliders.”
Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, who was present during the first successful flight, added “This was one of the most exciting days in the whole history of Virgin. For the first time since we seriously began the project in 2004, I watched the world’s first manned commercial spaceship landing on the runway at Mojave Air and Space Port and it was a great moment. Now, the sky is no longer the limit and we will begin the process of pushing beyond to the final frontier of space itself over the next year.”
Virgin Galactic is now well on the way to becoming the world’s first commercial space line with 370 customer deposits totalling $50 million. Future commercial operations will be at Spaceport America in New Mexico where final preparations are taking place for a finished runway inauguration ceremony on Friday 22nd October 2010. National Geographic channel in the United States will be showing a documentary on the build up and preparation for the first flight of VSS Enterprise on Monday, 18 October at 10.00pm ET/PT.
George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic who was also present at the historic flight, added “To see the world’s first manned commercial spaceship landing on a runway is a sight I always dreamed I would behold. Now, our challenge going forward will be to complete our experimental program, obtain our FAA licence and safely bring the system into service at Spaceport America, New Mexico.”