London Sunday Times Story About Cracks in WhiteKnightTwo’s Wings

WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo take off from Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)
WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo take off from Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Good morning, everyone.

I co-authored a story published in the London Sunday Times today about cracks that have been discovered in WhiteKnightTwo’s wings. The article is behind a pay wall. Sorry about that.

It doesn’t go into a lot of specific detail about the cracks, so here’s a bit more information. The cracks were discovered during an inspection conducted after Virgin Galactic took possession of WhiteKnightTwo from builder Scaled Composites in February.

Sources tell me the cracks are along the spars that run the length of the wings. Specifically, they are located where the spars connect with the fuselage. My sources tell me the cracks have caused quite a bit of concern among the engineers at Virgin and Scaled. One particularly worrisome aspect is that nobody knows why or when they occurred.

I’m told there is some comfort in the repairs being made based on previous Scaled experience in patching composites. However, since the cause of the cracks is uncertain and WhiteKnightTwo is unique in terms of its size and the stresses placed on it by SpaceShipTwo, the engineers are in uncharted territory. They don’t know if they have addressed the root cause, or whether the problem will reoccur.

This is not an insignificant matter because this is the aircraft that will launch a hot of billionaires and millionaires into space.

Virgin Galactic has denied that there are cracks in the wings. The company claims they are adhesive imperfections that have been repaired and have a negligible impact on the aircraft.

We stand behind this report. All our sources referred to cracks. Nobody used adhesive imperfections to describe the problem.