SpaceShipTwo Carried Aloft on Captive Carry Flight

WhiteKnightTwo carries SpaceShipTwo No. 2 on its first captive carry flight. (Credit: Douglas Messier)
WhiteKnightTwo carries SpaceShipTwo No. 2 on its first captive carry flight. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Update: WhiteKnightTwo landed at about 3:45 pm PDT, which put the flight time at about 3 hours 42 minutes.

Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo took off today with SpaceShipTwo attached for a captive carry flight test. The flight lifted off from Runway 12-30 at the Mojave Air and Spaceport in California at 12:03 p.m. PDT.

Reports are that the flight test is scheduled to last three to four hours. This is the first flight of a SpaceShipTwo since the first vehicle broke up during a powered flight test on Oct. 31, 2014.

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  • Vladislaw

    Any word on when the first powered flight will take place?

  • Douglas Messier

    A Virgin Galactic official was quoted in July as saying they would start captive carry and glide flights in August and powered flights in 2017. The first part of the flight test program slipped about a week, which is not a big deal.

  • windbourne

    Interesting that this is taking so long.
    Do you know if there was a massive redesign?

  • Douglas Messier

    The word on that has been mixed. On the one hand, they’re stressing the safety improvement with the feather and other changes learned from the first vehicle’s flight test program. It’s not entirely clear what the other changes are. On the other hand, I’ve heard it’s pretty close to a copy of the first one.

    I’ve heard the plan is for 7 captive carry and glide flights this year. Then 12 powered flights of different lengths starting in 2017. Depending upon the frequency of the flights go and what problems are found, I wouldn’t expect commercial flights until late 2017 or later.

    Company officials have said they won’t repeat the entire glide test program, just do enough flights to see if vehicle is performing like the first one. That might indicate not too many changes. A more conservative approach would be to treat it as an entirely new vehicle and repeat the whole program. But, that might be unnecessary. it would certainly cost more.