Virgin Galactic Clarifies Status of SpaceShipTwo Engine

Hybrid engine test at the Mojave Air and Space Port on Jan. 23, 2013. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

The latest edition of The Lurio Report includes an update on Virgin Galactic’s testing of SpaceShipTwo. I’m reproducing the relevant excerpt from it with the original bold emphasis included:

Around the same time stories were again heard that the present engine design would not be able to attain space altitude – at least not with a full compliment of six passengers and two crew.  Will Pomerantz, VP of Special Projects for Virgin Galactic, said in response to my query that, “Mojave’s certainly full of rumors, so it’s good to have a chance to clarify.  On the basis of the great results from PF01 and PF02 [the first two powered flights], coupled with continued ground testing, we do expect the present hybrid motor to be capable of carrying passengers into space.  As always, we’ll continue to look at a variety of ways to improve the motor’s performance and cost-effectiveness.”  (Later Pomerantz confirmed that he was referring to a full complement of passengers and crew when using the hybrid motor.)

He added that while Scaled is not working on any liquid engines Virgin Galactic is, though only for the LauncherOne orbital rocket which will be released from the WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) aircraft.

This is really interesting. Let’s dissect this statement one clarification at a time.