SpaceShipTwo Pilots Faced Extremely High Work Loads

Pre-sunrise checks on WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo on the runway at the Mojave Air and Spaceport. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)
Pre-sunrise checks on WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo on the runway at the Mojave Air and Spaceport before powered flight 3. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Part 2 in a Series

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Mojave Air and Spaceport sits on 3,300 acres of California’s High Desert about 100 miles north of Los Angeles. Since it opened in 1935, the facility had seen multiple uses – rural airfield for the mining industry, World War II Marines Corps training base, U.S. Navy air station and general aviation airport.


Video About Innovation at Mojave, NASA Armstrong & Edwards AFB

Video Caption: In this video, innovative ideas on the future of space travel and aerospace dynamics are the brainchild of Mojave Spaceport’s, Stu Witt; NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center’s David McBride and Rocket Propulsion Lab’s Mike Huggins. The importance of risk as a crucial element in progressing forward is emphasized by the foremost risk-takers in space; rocket science; aerospace and education.The role of STEM education in growing our engineers is championed by AV College Math and Science Dean, Les Uhazy, as well as the space pioneers interviewed for this project.


Sierra Nevada Plans Additional Dream Chaser Flight Tests in Fall

Dream Chaser on approach after a successful free flight. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Sierra Nevada Corporation will conduct additional drop tests of its Dream Chaser space shuttle at Edwards Air Force Base in the fall, Co-program Director John Curry said during the recent Space Tech Expo in Long Beach, Calif.

The approach and landing tests will be conducted using an upgraded engineering test vehicle that glided to a landing at Edwards last October.  The upgrades will include the avionics, software, and guidance, navigation and control systems designed for use on the orbital Dream Chaser spacecraft, Curry said.


Steve Knight Weighs Run for Congress

State Sen. Steve Knight
State Sen. Steve Knight

California State Sen. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale), a key supporter of commercial space, says he will run for Congress next year in the 25th District should the current office holder, Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-Santa Clarita), decides to retire, the Antelope Valley Press reported today.

McKeon, 75, has not announced his plans, but there is widespread speculation in political circles that he will elect to step down next year rather than seek another two-year term, the newspaper reported.

The state senator, whose father William J. “Pete” Knight flew the X-15 rocket plane, has been a key backer of commercial space measures in the California Legislature. He introduced a limited liability bill designed to protect commercial space providers from passenger lawsuits that was approved with revisions. He also has introduced several other commercial space bills now being considered by legislators.


What Actually Happened with Dream Chaser

I recently heard a very interesting talk from someone who saw the  Dream Chaser drop test at Edwards Air Force Base. The person described the landing, which went awry due to the failure of the left landing gear, as being looking similar to the crash in the opening credits for “The Six Million Dollar Man” television show.

This explains why the video that Sierra Nevada Corporation released ends abruptly just at touchdown. A crash like that is not exactly what you want everyone to see when you’re competing for billions of government dollars.


Endeavour Returns to California, Final Flight Set for Friday – UPDATED TIMES

Endeavour and the shuttle carrier aircraft over Houston (Credit: NASA)

NASA PR — Space shuttle Endeavour has returned to California, its state of origin, 21 years after rolling out of the Palmdale assembly facility. At 3:50 p.m. EDT, Endeavour, mounted atop NASA’s 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), landed at Edwards Air Force Base, just down the road from where it was built.

Following an overnight stay, the SCA and Endeavour will complete the ferry flight with a salute to the Edwards Air Force Base area early Friday. At 11 a.m. EDT (8 a.m. PDT), NASA Television will air the departure of Endeavour from Edwards as it begins its California flyover:

They will take off at 8:15 a.m. PDT (11:15 a.m. EDT) and make low-altitude flyovers of Palmdale, Lancaster, Rosamond and Mojave before heading north to Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area.


Hi all.

I am making my way from Santa Clara to back to Mojave this afternoon. It’s a trip that will take about five hours and cover roughly 300 miles, but the distance traveled cannot be measured solely in time and distance. Instead, it is a voyage between two very different cultures.

Silicon Valley is a green, leafy place with shiny office buildings where talented engineers sit in cubicles writing software that makes billions of dollars. That software has helped to make user-friendly computers ubiquitous and connected the world via the Internet.

Silicon Valley has long since transitioned from the days where engineers labored in garages to produce the first personal computers. Most of the hardware production has all be shipped away to be done by low-wage workers in distant locales.


WhiteKnight Vehicles to Appear at Edwards Air Show

Sir Richard Branson with Virgin Galactic pilots, staffers and investors. To his right is Mohamed Badawy Al-Husseiny, CEO of Aabar, which made a $280 million in Virgin Galactic.
Sir Richard Branson with Virgin Galactic pilots, staffers and investors in front of the WhiteKnightTwo.


Scaled Composites’ White Knight One and White Knight Two aircraft will
be making a rare public appearance at the Edwards Air Force Base “Flight Test Nation 2009” Air Show and Open house on October 17, 2009.


Edwards AFB Air Show Set for Oct. 17


“Flight Test Nation” will make its inaugural flight Oct. 17 as Edwards Air Force Base heralds its test legacy and the 50th anniversary of the X-15 during its open house and air show.

Edwards is unveiling the new air show slogan to honor its long-standing pursuit of performance excellence and the rich aviation heritage it shares with neighbors in Antelope Valley.


Air Force, NASA to Fly Scramjets Out of Edwards

The Department of Defense and NASA plan to conduct high-altitude flight tests of advanced scram-jet technology beginning in 2011 that could lead to high-speed aircraft and next-generation space vehicles.

“The types of aircraft studied…are one-of-a kind research aircraft that will be developing new capabilities to fly efficiently at high speed within the atmosphere using supersonic combustion ramjet engines (Scramjet),” according to a description of the program.