Scaled Composites Conducts SpaceShipTwo Taxi Test

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

There has been renewed activity out here in Mojave on the SpaceShipTwo program as Scaled Composites gears up for a busy summer of flight testing. Scaled Composites conducted a taxi test on SpaceShipTwo on June 1 (see summary below), with the space plane spend three hours out on the runway. Three different pilots were at the controls as they tested new higher capacity brakes.

WhiteKnightTwo was also flying solo over Mojave on Sunday. That is believed to be the 81st flight of SpaceShipTwo’s carrier aircraft. Scaled has not posted a test flight summary on its website yet.

Officials have said that engineers have been installing engine components on the spacecraft. Glide flights of the heavier configuration are set for this summer. Powered flights using a smaller “starter” engine toward the end of this year.

SpaceShipTwo has not flown since Sept. 29 when the ship experienced a dangerous stall and fell precipitously. The pilots regained control of the vehicle by using the ship’s feathered re-entry system.

At a meeting on Tuesday of the East Kern Airport District Board of Directors, Mojave Air & Space Port CEO Stu Witt said he expected to see a new round of flight testing to begin shortly. Witt didn’t mention any specific companies among the many that are located here.

SpaceShipTwo Test Summary

Test:SS2 Taxi 03
Date:01 Jun 12Time:3 hr on runway
Crew (Runs 01-02):Siebold / Nichols / Mackay
Crew (Run 03):Alsbury / Siebold / Mackay
Crew (Run 04):Mackay / Siebold / Alsbury

Condition and evaluate the decelerating performance with the new higher capacity brakes.

We performed four tests from 30 to 65 mph with three different pilots. All objectives were achieved.

  • warshawski

    Comparing SpaceX Dragon and Virgin SpaceShipTwo progress I would not bet against Dragon carrying people into orbit before SpaceShipTwo gets people sub-orbital. SpaceX have stated they expect to integrate LAS into Dragon later this year which is the critical path for manned flight of Dragon. As above a starter motor is expected in SpaceShipTwo later this year no mention of the full sized motor wil be installed.
    With crew layout accepted for Dragon, Falcon 9 3 from 3 launches and re-entry proven only LAS testing is required, with intgration later this year I would expect LAS pad testing Q4 this year or Q1 next this would allow F9 to have completed 6 or 7 flights prior to a manned test flight later in 2014. They just need funding for the testing.