Space

July 5, 2012

Scaled, Sierra Nevada pick up SpaceShipTwo test pace

by Raphael Jaffe
Staff Writer

June 26, Scaled performed its 17th glide test of SpaceShipTwo.

On the same day, Sierra Nevada Corp. performed a full duration firing test of RocketMotorTwo. And on June 29, Scaled did the glide flight 18 test. The three tests achieved all objectives.

The test log for glide tests 17 and 18 shows the objectives were SS2 release and glide flight practice.

To perform the flights, SS2 was air-released from WhiteKnightTwo at an altitude of 51,000 feet.

For test 17, at the SS2 controls were Scaled pilots Pete Siebold and Mike Alsbury. In the carrier aircraft were Scaled test pilot Mark Stucky and David Mackay, Virgin Galactic’s Chief Pilot. Flying in the chase plane for the test were Mike Melville, who in 2004 piloted the first private flight to space, and Virgin Galactic pilot Keith Colmer. For test 18, WK2 was piloted by Pete Siebold and Clint Nichols

The June 26 RM2 test was the 13th full-scale flight design hot-fire. The objectives were: Continued evaluation of all systems and components; Pressurization; Valve/Injector; Fuel formulation and geometry; Nozzle; Structure; Performance. All objectives were completed during the targeted 55-second hot fire, as planned. The duration of burn was chosen to allow examination of internal geometry.

“Since receiving an experimental launch permit from the Federal Aviation Administration in May for SpaceShipTwo and its carrier vehicle, WhiteKnightTwo, there has been a rapid escalation of test activity,” said George Whitesides, CEO and president of Virgin Galactic. “In that timeframe, we’ve had seven successful test flights and three full-scale rocket motor tests. We are on track for powered flight by the end of 2012.”

This intense period of activity comes just weeks before Virgin Galactic, along with its Mojave, Calif.,-based sister manufacturing organization, The Spaceship Company, will gather customers and VIPs at the Farnborough International Air Show 2012. Guests will attend a special briefing from company founder Sir Richard Branson and other company executives.




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