Post maintenance functional check flight
Evaluate stability and control
Previous flutter point validation
Increased weight landing (using water ballast)
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.
MOJAVE, Calif. ― The Spaceship Company (TSC), the aerospace production joint venture of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites, achieved a significant milestone in making commercial space travel a reality with today’s opening of its Final Assembly, Integration and Test Hangar, or FAITH, at Mojave Air and Space Port. The $8 million, modern, energy-efficient hangar supports the final stages of production for prime customer Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo, and will add new jobs to the commercial space industry at spaceports in Mojave and New Mexico.
Commenting on the grand opening, Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson said, “Today marks another important step along the road to opening space for everyone. We’re extremely proud of the new FAITH building, which is the world’s first facility dedicated to producing private, commercial manned space vehicles. From this hangar, the talented team at The Spaceship Company will be at the forefront of making space access safe, reliable and affordable.”
Located on taxiway-B, FAITH is a 68,000-square-foot, LEED-certified facility that will be used primarily for the final assembly, integration and testing of TSC vehicles before they are delivered to their customers. FAITH will also be used to support major return-to-base vehicle maintenance, and serve as TSC’s operating headquarters.
“We take great pride in the opening of FAITH as an accomplishment for our company, our current and future customers and our industry,” said The Spaceship Company Vice President, Operations Enrico Palermo. “Within this new facility, we will produce the highest quality commercial spaceflight systems.”
FAITH completes the infrastructure needed to manufacture a fleet of TSC’s two core products: the SpaceShipTwo (SS2) sub-orbital spaceship and the WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) carrier aircraft. The facility is specifically sized to support fabrication of SS2 and WK2 with room to produce at least two of each ship at the same time.
“Not only are we welcoming a new neighbor at the Mojave Air and Space Port today, we’re ushering in another phase in the development of commercial space travel,” said President of Scaled Composites Doug Shane. “It’s exciting to see the vision becoming a reality.”
FAITH was completed within 10 months, as scheduled, and on budget by Bakersfield-based Wallace & Smith General Contractors. It is one of two facilities that TSC will use to produce commercial spacecraft. The other is a 48,000-square-foot existing building at the Mojave Air and Space Port that TSC recently upgraded to serve as the company’s fabrication and vehicle sub-assembly facility. TSC has secured options to expand the size of the FAITH facility and build an adjacent flight test hangar, as the customer base grows.
The opening of FAITH also means a boost to our local economies with impact in California and New Mexico. TSC currently employs over 80 people and is looking to double its workforce within the next year, with numerous high-tech and engineering positions available in the next 90 days.
“Despite the current state of the U.S. economy and rising unemployment, this is a strong time of growth for The Spaceship Company,” Palermo said. “We are creating excellent, high-skilled job opportunities for individuals with aerospace, engineering and hands-on space program experience. We want employees who are passionate about developing new and innovative ways of accessing space.”