2008-01-27 - Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwVirgin Galactic unveils spaceship designs
Branson stellt SpaceShipTwo vor<br /> Virgin Galactic unveiled the design of its new, environmentally benign, space launch system based on the X Prize winning technology of SpaceShipOne, which successfully flew into space for the third time in October 2004 and won the $10m Ansari X Prize. The construction of the White Knight Two (WK2) mothership, or carrier aircraft, is now very close to completion at Scaled Composites in Mojave, CA and is expected to begin flight testing in the summer of 2008.
It is the world's largest, all carbon composite aircraft; it has a unique high altitude lift capacity, capable of launching SpaceShipTwo and its eight astronauts into sub-orbital space flight.
The WK2 mothership is powered by four Pratt and Whitney PW308A engines which are amongst the most powerful, economic and efficient engines available. The WK2 mothership has also been designed to be capable of lifting other payload and launching it into space. Whilst the two vehicles comprising the space launch system have been under construction, Virgin Galactic's cadre of future astronauts has continued to grow strongly to well in excess of 200 individuals with around 85,000 registrations of interest to fly. Astronaut orientation for spaceflight is progressing well and already 80 of SpaceShipTwo's first passengers have been through medical assessment and centrifuge training at the NASTAR facility in Philadelphia. Commenting on the unveiling, Burt Rutan, CEO of Scaled Composites, said: "Virgin Galactic produced a demanding output specification for the world's first private human and payload space launch system. This required us to produce a safe but flexible design capable of multiple applications in new market sectors. I am confident that these vehicles, now in an advanced stage of construction, will achieve just that. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the whole team at Scaled Composites. "Looking up - way up!" is an expression we have shared since the X Prize began and now we are all excited that this year the dream will start to become a very tangible reality for everyone involved."