Virgin Galactic vs. XCOR: Two Very Different Approaches

Space Up Houston August 2011 from Schipul – The Web Marketing Co. on Vimeo.

Virgin Galactic’s Will Pomerantz and XCOR Aerospace’s Khaki McKee both gave updates on their companies’ suborbital vehicles during the recent Houston SpaceUp conference. For the benefit of those who don’t have time to watch the full video above, I’ve summarized their presentations below in a convenient side-by-side table to allow for an easy comparison.

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Spaceship Company Ramps Up in Mojave

The Spaceship Company in Mojave is ramping up to produce WhiteKnightTwos and SpaceShipTwos. We have this report from Aviation Week:

TSC was initially tasked with making one WK2 and four SS2s for Virgin Galactic, and Operations Director Enrico Palermo says: “I’m confident we’ll be building more.” Together with the first WK2 and SS2 already built and in test, Virgin plans to operate an initial fleet of two carriers and five spacecraft, though hopes are high that other “spaceline” customers will emerge.

For now, Palermo says, “our blinders are set on serving our first customer, and getting these spacecraft flying.” With flight tests of the first SS2 accelerating and the first rocket-powered flights expected in coming months, the configuration of the production variants of both spacecraft and carrier aircraft are close to finalization. “WK2 is flying and meeting its objectives, so that’s more or less set,” says Joe Brennan, TSC vehicle production manager, who adds that the company is also “pretty happy” with the minor design changes on the SS2 required so far.

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Spaceship Company Breaks Ground on Mojave Production Facility

VG/TSC CEO George Whitesides, CA Sen. Elect Jean Fuller, Mojave Air and Space Port General Manager Stuart Witt, TSC Director of Operations Enrico Palermo, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher at the ground breaking for The Spaceship Company's production facility in Mojave. Photo by Mike Mills

TSC PRESS RELEASE
November 9, 2010

The Spaceship Company (TSC) broke ground today for its new Final Assembly, Integration and Test Hangar today at Mojave Air & Space Port, with the presence of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (CA-22) , Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (CA-46) and Rep. Jean Fuller.

TSC is a new aerospace production company, founded by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Scaled Composites, a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman Corporation. TSC’s mission is to build the fleet of SpaceShipTwos and WhiteKnightTwos for its customer Virgin Galactic.

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The Spaceship Company Breaks Ground on Production Facility in Mojave

Gear down. (Photo: Mark Greenberg)

Spacecraft factory to break ground in Mojave
Los Angeles Times

A production facility that would build the world’s first fleet of commercial spaceships is set to begin construction Tuesday at the Mojave Air and Space Port.

The 68,000-square-foot facility, one of the first aircraft assembly plants to be built in the region in decades, will be home to the Spaceship Co., or TSC — a joint venture owned by Mojave-based Scaled Composites and British billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, a space tourism company.

TSC hopes to complete the complex by September 2011. It expects to build three White Knight aircraft, which resemble massive flying catamarans, and five smaller SpaceShipTwo rocket planes.

Read the full story.