Thursday, December 25, 2008

WhiteKnightTwo Has Maiden Flight This Month

Virgin Galactic's carrier aircraft known as WhiteKnightTwo (or as SpaceShipTwo Carrier) made a successful maiden test flight on December 21, 2008 at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The aircraft designed by Scale Composites lifted off with its four Pratt and Whitney PW308A turbofan engines at 8:17 am. The maiden test flight ended at the same runway at about 9:17am PST.

Virgin Galactic has on order five of the SpaceShipTwo rocket planes and two of the carriers (WhiteKnightTwo Carrier). Burt Rutan told "Overall, 99% on target and everybody is really happy. You get an airplane that's this weird and get it up and get it down.. and it's safe on deck."

Will Whitehorn, President of Virgin Galactic added, "White Knight Two is the world's largest all carbon composite aviation vehicle. And of course she really is also a first stage space launch system capable of carrying enormous weight to the edge of the atmosphere, training astronauts with her zero to six G flying capability and being a scientific payload at the same time."

In other Virgin Galactic news, on December 15, 2008, the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) announced that Spaceport America has received its Record of Decision and license for verticle and horizontal launch operations from the Federal Aviation Administration's Office of Commercial Space Transportation. The Gerald Martin Construction Management of Albuquerque, New Mexico, will oversee the construction of Spaceport America. The NMSA is expected to have a signed lease agreement with Virgin Galactic by the end of the month. Terminal and hangar facility construction will began in 2009 and hopefully completed by late 2010.

Ref. Article on by Leonard David, "SpaceShipTwo Carrier Craft Makes Successful First Flight"Posted on December 21, 2008. photo taken by and posted to Bill Deaver (Mojave Desert News).

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