Update on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo

Virgin Galactic President Mike Moses was at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS) conference in Las Cruces, NM, this week updating everyone on the company’s effort to fly people into suborbital space aboard SpaceShipTwo.  Meanwhile, the spacecraft’s mother ship flew in to make an appearance at it’s future home, Spaceport America (see video, above).

Unity has been performing very well, sometimes better than models predicted,” Moses said. “Things are right on track where they need to be.”

Next up will be powered flight testing. While Unity is being tested, two more vehicles are being built to increase the fleet once it’s proven in powered flight. That, Moses said, is an indication of Virgin Galactic’s commitment to have multiple vehicles ready when commercial manned flights begin at Spaceport America.

Crews are putting final touches on the propulsion system and “pretty soon” will be evaluating supersonic boost. Virgin founder Richard Branson, in Helsinki last week, told Business Insider “We are hopefully about three months before we are in space, maybe six months before I’m in space.”

When questioned about that statement by ISPCS session moderator Ariane Cornell, Moses took a more conservative tone.

“Richard always poses a challenge, he likes to push us pretty hard,” Moses said. “Sometimes I wish he wouldn’t talk so much. We hope to be in space by the end of this year. We’ll take our time with it. We’re going to fly when we are ready.”

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  • ThomasLMatula

    There are less than three months left in this year. It would take a very fast pace for them to make it into space by then.

    I wonder if he meant next year or was thinking in terms of their fiscal year instead.

  • Jacob Samorodin

    Richard Branson has his eyes on something less ambitious now; the son of Concorde. The return of supersonic passenger jets.

  • Douglas Messier

    Moses also said that flights will exceed 50 miles, at least initially. Eventually they want to go past the Karman line at 62 miles.

    That was the same position they were in 3.5 years when I reported they couldn’t get to the Karman line.

    They were smart enough when they signed up customers to only stipulate 50 miles in the agreements. They’re going to use the USAF standard of awarding astronaut wings that was used for X-15 pilots.

  • Stu

    That’s probably not less ambitious than SS2, actually. Concorde was an amazing technical feat.

  • patb2009

    not to be argumentative but there is no “Space” Line, merely convention.