More WhiteKnightTwo Details


There was a panel discussion at the Oshkosh airshow last night that featured Scaled Composites Burt Rutan and Bob Morgan and Virgin Galactic’s Will Whitehorn. Some highlights:

  • Initially, WhiteKnightTwo was supposed to be a scaled up version of the single-keel WhiteKnight;
  • Realized that they wanted to allow people to float around, which required a larger SpaceShipTwo and a twin keel WhiteKnightTwo;
  • When they saw how big WhiteKnightTwo would need to be, Virgin Galactic was not very happy (laughs);
  • The WhiteKnightTwo’s cockpit and passenger area was originally supposed to be above SpaceShipTwo; the final design has them level with each other;
  • Having both vehicles level is a safer design; it also allows passengers in WhiteKnightTwo to watch the launch of SpaceShipTwo;
  • Production run for the program is set up for 12 WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft and 50 SpaceShipTwo crafts;
  • This is the first all-composites aircraft, something that the aviation industry needs to embrace more;
  • WhiteKnightTwo is not just an aircraft, it is a spacecraft delivery system that is capable of delivering cargo into space cheaply;
  • Scaled and Virgin are confident they can build a WhiteKnightThree that will allow they to launch even larger payloads into space;
  • Whitehorn sees this as the beginning of a revolution in affordable space transportation; he  mentioned space-based orbiting satellites as one use of space that is too expensive to launch at the moment;
  • Rutan said WhiteKnightTwo is very manueverable, and he expected to put the vehicle through aerobatic manuevers at the Oshkosh show next year;
  • Whitehorn didn’t seem to like this idea very much, vigorously shaking his head and trying to dissuade the designer from such an idea.

  • John Kavanagh

    space-based orbiting satellites as one use of space that is too expensive to launch at the moment

    Which orbiting satellites aren’t space-based? They’re expensive, but are launched. What key word is missing from Whitehorn’s quote?

  • Nickolai_the_Russian_guy

    space-based orbiting satellites? As opposed to land-based orbiting satellites? Or space-based non-orbiting satellites?

  • sandrot

    I’m confused by “Initially, WhiteKnightTwo was supposed to be a scaled up version of the single-keel WhiteKnightTwo”. Maybe “single-keel SpaceShipTwo”?

  • Buyck

    Where are the concurrents??? I hope Xcor Aerospace will stand up one day. And we hear not so much of Bigelow Aerospace and Galactic Suite?! The 2 last firms will open a space hotel in 2012. I think it will be later. What ever… Virgin hase the honour to start first!

  • I think I meant to say the original WhiteKnight. It’s been corrected now.