Space

July 31, 2013

More SpaceShipTwo glide tests completed

Raphael Jaffe
staff writer

Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic have conducted two successful glide tests of SpaceShipTwo at Mojave Air and Space Port in the last weeks.

There were tests in the early morning hours of July 19 and July 25. Both were announced on the Virgin Galactic Facebook page only, rather than via the Virgin Galactic or Scaled web pages. For both tests, the release indicted that all goals for the flight were achieved.

The Scaled flight test log has listed the July 25 test glide flight. However it did note two flights of the carrier aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo, July 19. These were noted as proficiency exercises for the two newly added Virgin Galactic pilots, C.J. Sturckow and Michel Masucci. There are now three Virgin Galactic pilots assigned to WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo duties.

April 29, SS2 had its first ever powered flight. SS2 was released from the mother ship and the rocket motor fired for 16 seconds and took SS2 up to about 50,000 feet and a speed of Mach 1.2. The flight was completely successful. Virgin has a target objective to complete development flights by the end of 2013, and the start of commercial flights in 2014. There are now about 610 booked customers for SS2 flights, at a value of $122 million, of which $70 million has ben received. Cost of flight as just been increased to $250,000 from $200,000. Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic founder, recently said that he believes he and his family will fly in SS2 on Christmas day, 2013.

Virgin Galactic has appointed Steve Isakowitz as President, Isakowitz has served as Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer since he joined the company in September, 2011. He has played a key role across a range of areas, and led the development of LauncherOne, a revolutionary orbital launch system for small satellites. Isakowitz will continue to report directly to Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company. Whitesides is also CEO of The Spaceship Co. which is building and testing an additional five follow-on SpaceShipTwo spacecraft, and an additional launch aircraft.




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