VG PR — To date, all test flights of WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo have been piloted by Scaled Composite’s cadre of talented test pilots.
WhiteKnightTwo took to the air for the 72nd time yesterday (8/31/2011); it was a special flight for Virgin Galactic because at the controls, for the very first time, was our own Chief Test pilot, Dave Mackay. Dave joined Virgin Galactic in 2009 following a high-flying aviation career as an RAF test pilot and a Virgin Atlantic Captain.
BusinessDay.co.nz has a Q&A with Richard Branson in which the British billionaire promotes the “greener” nature of the WhiteKnightTwo/SpaceShipTwo combo:
We should no longer rely on old, expensive, “dirty” technology to transport satellites into space. The industry must be modernised and made more sustainable, both for financial reasons and for the health of the planet. In response to this challenge, we have been developing a greener solution in Mojave, California — one that will have less impact on the environment and will be more cost effective. Our two-step launch process, which does not employ rockets until the aircraft reaches the stratosphere, uses less energy than other launch systems that rely on rockets to lift off from the ground.
Below is Virgin Galactic’s official press release announcing Will Whitehorn’s departure from the company. With traveling and the holidays, I overlooked it until now.
VIRGIN GALACTIC PRESS RELEASE Dec. 23, 2010
Will Whitehorn, President of Virgin Galactic since the formation of the company in 2004, is to retire from that role in January 2011. George Whitesides, who was appointed as the first full time CEO in May 2010, assumes the title of President and CEO.
NASA’s Office of Chief Technologist has published detailed information about suborbital vehicles that will be available beginning in 2011 for researchers to conduct microgravity experiments. The vehicles are being built by Armadillo Aerospace, Blue Origin, Masten Space Systems, Virgin Galactic, and XCOR.
Today we will look at Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo.Â The eight-seat suborbital vehicle built by Scaled Composites is currently being tested in Mojave, Calif.
The Guardian reports that Virgin Galactic’s Will Whitehorn was “hopping mad” over a recent study indicating that SpaceShipTwo might not be as clean as the company claims:
“The research was fundamentally wrong,” he says. “If you had a Virgin Galactic program running for ten years, if you assumed that we weren’t using biobutinol (which we will) we’re talking about less environmental impact over ten years than 1.5 shuttle launches.”
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 Bransonâ€™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.
Sir Richard Branson’s speech during the Spaceport American Runway Dedication ceremony last Friday. Sorry about the first 20 seconds; I had been taking pictures with the camera vertically and had forgot to change it. His talk is interrupted by the arrival of WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo.
Reports out of Mojave, Calif. indicate that famed aircraft designer Burt Rutan is looking to retire from the company he founded, Scaled Composites, and move away from the desert town where he designed and built groundbreaking aircraft and spacecraft for 36 years.
Questions on Security Mar Foreign Investments The New York Times
Executives at Virgin Galactic, by comparison, say they remain confident they can clear up government concerns about the proposed sale of 32 percent of their venture to Aabar Investments of Abu Dhabi, which is controlled by the government there.
It’s difficult not to admire the dynamism that brought him to this point. And it was actually rather affecting, at Monday’s unveiling in the Mojave Desert, to meet the “future astronauts” who boldly intend to entrust their lives to a spacecraft developed by a man whose state-of-the-art locomotives are unable to negotiate fallen leaves.