WhiteKnightTwo Out and About Today in Mojave

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New Virgin Galactic pilot Frederick “CJ” Sturckow get the traditional post-flight drenching after flying WhiteKnightTwo for the first time. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

New Virgin Galactic pilot Frederick “CJ” Sturckow get the traditional post-flight drenching after flying WhiteKnightTwo for the first time. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

UPDATE: Yup, the report was accurate, all right. And Virgin Galactic has released a photo.

I received a reliable report of WhiteKnightTwo performing touch and gos on the  runway at the Mojave Air and Space Port this morning. It was flying solo without SpaceShipTwo.

  • SilveradoCyn

    Could someone explain why Virgin Galactic or Scaled haven’t been flying the heck out of WK2 for commercial certification? I would think they would be building up hours and shaking down the aircraft as Boeing does with each new product.

  • http://www.facebook.com/douglasmessier Douglas Messier

    That’s a good question.

    My guess is there are probably two reasons. One might be money. The first powered flight last week was a milestone mission that resulted in the release of more funds that were needed to move the project forward. It’s apparently the first of a series of milestones leading up to a spaceflight. The project is already way behind schedule and massively over budget as it is. Going for certification now — without any revenues coming in yet — would be a massive expense.

    The second is figuring out a clear path to certification. Neither Virgin nor Scaled have ever certified an aircraft before. I know that earlier this year they were trying to bring on someone with experience in that area to help them figure out how to do it. The goal seemed to be to create a unique path to certification for a very unusual aircraft. The problem is that FAA doesn’t do unique paths very well.