Space

June 14, 2012

SpaceShipTwo flexes wings, prepares for powered flight tests

by Raphael Jaffe
Staff Writer

After a few months spent in awaiting a flight permit and evidently tweaking the design, Scaled Composites seems to be preparing the next steps in its flight test program for SpaceShipTwo.

The craft is being built for The Spaceship Co., a joint venture of Scaled and the world’s first commercial spaceline, Virgin Galactic. It will bring six passengers and its crew of two to the edge of space.

On May 30, the FAA granted an experimental launch permit to Scaled for its suborbital spacecraft, SpaceShipTwo, and its carrier aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo. This will allow flight tests using the SpaceShipTwo rocket motors.

“The Spaceship program is making steady progress, and we are all looking forward to lighting the vehicle’s rocket engine in flight for the first time,” said Doug Shane, president of Scaled.

Already, SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo have made significant progress in their flight test program. With 82 test flights completed, WhiteKnightTwo is substantially through its test plan, while the more recently constructed SpaceShipTwo has safely completed sixteen free flights, including three that tested the vehicle’s unique “feathering” re-entry system. Additionally, ten test firings of the full-scale SpaceShipTwo rocket motor, including full duration burns, have been safely and successfully completed.

With this permit now in hand, Scaled is now authorized to press onward towards rocket-powered test flights. In preparation for those powered flights, SpaceShipTwo will soon return to flight, testing the aerodynamic performance of the spacecraft with the full weight of the rocket motor system on board. Integration of key rocket motor components, already begun during the recent downtime for routine maintenance, will continue into the autumn. Scaled expects to begin rocket powered, supersonic flights under the just-issued experimental permit toward the end of the year.

“This important milestone enables our team to progress to the rocket-powered phase of test flight, bringing us a major step closer to bringing our customers to space,” said George Whitesides, president and CEO of Virgin Galactic. “We thank the FAA for their timely issuance of this permit, and for their responsible oversight of the test program.”

SpaceShipTwo and its carrier craft, WhiteKnightTwo have been undergoing a series of flight tests at Mojave Air and Space Port. The published flight test summaries log shows a series of flights, starting April 20, 2009, with flight 4 of WhiteKnightTwo. Flights 81 and 82 took place June 2, 2012. Its objectives were: Pilot proficiency; Spoil flap evaluation; Cold soak gear extension retraction; and Copilot and brake evaluation. All objectives were met.

SpaceShipTwo tests are logged as captive carries or glide flight. The first captive carry was on March 22, 2010. The last was captive carry test 15, and took place on Oct 19, 2011. In a glide flight test, SpaceShipTwo is released and piloted back to runway 30 at Mojave Air and Space Port, Calif. The first glide test was on Oct. 10, 2010.

The last was test 16 on Sept. 29, 2011. The test objectives were: Post maintenance functional check flight; Clean release; Evaluate stability and control; Flutter expansion; Previous flutter point validation; Increased weight landing (using water ballast);and Pilot proficiency. The results were as follows: the test card called for releasing the Spaceship from WhiteKnightTwo and immediately entering a rapid descent. Upon release, the Spaceship experienced a downward pitch rate that caused a stall of the tails. The crew followed procedure, selecting the feather mode to revert to a benign condition. The crew then de-feathered and had a nominal return to base. This was great flying by the team and a good demo of feather system.

On June 1, there were four taxi run tests of SpaceShipTwo. The objective was to condition and evaluate the decelerating performance with the new higher capacity brakes. The result was that the objective was achieved. There were tests at 30 to 65 mph.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines August 18, 2014

News: U.S. mission in Iraq could expand, Pentagon official says - The mission for U.S. troops in Iraq to help Kurdish and Iraqi security forces in their fight against Islamic militants remains limited for now, but may expand after Iraqi leaders form a new government, a Pentagon spokesman said Aug. 19.   Business: Fuel deals top...
 
 

News Briefs August 20, 2014

Trials complete on fourth Coast Guard cutter Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss., has completed acceptance sea trials for the company’s fourth U.S. Coast Guard national security cutter, Hamilton. Jim French, Ingalls’ NSC program manager, tells The Mississippi Press) the Hamilton is scheduled to be delivered next month and commissioned on Dec. 6 in Charleston, South...
 
 
Army photograph by Sgt. Thomas Duval

Air Force, Army Aviation come together to complete vital mission in Egypt

Army photograph by Sgt. Thomas Duval Soldiers and airmen load a UH-60 Black Hawk into an Air Force C17 Globemaster III Aug. 19, 2104, at an old Israeli airstrip in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt. The airstrip is now used by the M...
 

 
Air Force photograph by TSgt. Terri Praden

Joint effort validates ability to move Stryker vehicles via air

Air Force photograph by TSgt. Terri Praden An Army Stryker combat vehicle is guided into a C-17 Globemaster III during a 25th Infantry Division training exercise Aug. 13, 2014, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. The Str...
 
 
NASA image

Ozone-depleting compound persists, NASA research shows

NASA image Satellites observed the largest ozone hole over Antarctica in 2006. Purple and blue represent areas of low ozone concentrations in the atmosphere; yellow and red are areas of higher concentrations. NASA research show...
 
 

F-16V completes major capability milestone

The newest configuration of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the F-16V, has reached a major capability milestone with the integration of a new Active Electronically Scanned Array radar. Completing this milestone on schedule demonstrates our ability to meet program commitments, said Roderick McLean, vice president and general manager of the F-16/F-22 Integrated Fighter Group at Lockheed...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>