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.”
8 November 2011, 20:00 - 21:30
Southend Branch: The Royal Naval Association, 79 East Street, Southend on Sea, SS2 6LQ
Captain David Mackay, Virgin Galactic's Chief Test Pilot will be speaking at the Southend branch of the Royal Aeronautical Society. US government clearances permitting, Mackay will be piloting Virgin's first commercial flight carrying Sir Richard Branson and his family into space.
Sir Richard Branson was interviewed at 'The Power of 3' award ceremony in London on 4th July. He said that the reason he established Virgin Galactic was because he ‘got sick of waiting for NASA.’ He confirmed that space flights for the public will commence in ’10 to 15 months.’ Another endeavour after this milestone will be to launch ‘a 2 to 3 hour London to Australia flight’ via space.
On the future flight manifest is a test run using a hybrid motor mounted within SpaceShipTwo. That powerhouse engine is being crafted by Sierra Nevada Corp. Short bursts to ever-longer burns of the motor in-flight are being planned, with the date of the first in-flight firing of the motor still to be determined.
The VSS Enterprise test flight program will continue through 2011.
MOJAVE, 15 JUNE 2011: More exciting news from the Mojave Desert this morning with confirmation that SpaceShipTwo, VSS Enterprise, had completed two successful glide flights within 24 hours.
This was the quickest turnaround time yet between VSS Enterprise solo flights, reinforcing the unique and transformational ability of Virgin Galactic’s spaceflight system to undertake daily flights to space.
Both flights saw early morning take-offs for VSS Enterprise, in mated configuration with the WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft, followed by high altitude releases at around 52,000ft and glides back to smooth touch-downs on the Mojave Air and Spaceport runway. Both flights were part of a continuing program of envelope expansion, specifically focussing on speed and susceptibility for flutter.
This morning’s flight was the 12th solo flight for SpaceShipTwo since its inaugural glide flight on 10th October 2010, including two successful “feather” flights which demonstrated the spaceship’s unique re-entry configuration.
The quick turnaround between the latest two flights demonstrates an important factor in Virgin Galactic’s planned commercial operations, which will see daily flights of both carrier aircraft and spaceship to accommodate the fast growing demand from both space tourists and researchers.
Congratulations to the whole team at Scaled Composites and particularly to SpaceShipTwo test pilots Pete Siebold, Doug Shane, Mark Stucky and Clint Nichols.