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Posted 06 April 2013 - 23:32
Posted 08 April 2013 - 03:36
Posted 08 April 2013 - 08:11
Posted 12 April 2013 - 22:16
SpaceShipTwo Advances Towards Powered Flight with Spectacular “Cold-Flow” Test
History continues to be made in the skies above the Mojave Desert. Hot on the heels of last week’s nitrous venting and feather test, SpaceShipTwo achieved another successful first today with a spectacular “Cold Flow” flight.
The test objectives were successfully met, advancing another important step towards powered flight.
In preparation for SpaceShipTwo’s first powered flight, the test teams from Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic completed the profile of the upcoming milestone flight – apart from actually igniting the rocket. Importantly, and for the first time in the air, oxidizer was flowed through the propulsion system and out through the nozzle at the rear of the vehicle– thus successfully accomplishing the “Cold-Flow” procedure.
As well as providing further qualifying evidence that the rocket system is flight ready, the test also provided a stunning spectacle due to the oxidizer contrail and for the first time gave a taste of what SpaceShipTwo will look like as it powers to space.
The upcoming first powered flight of SpaceshipTwo is in many ways the most significant milestone to date, being the first time that the spaceship has flown with all systems installed and fully operational. It’s an incredibly exciting stage of the program. Keep tuned in to our Twitter and Facebook accounts for more breaking news from Mojave.
Posted 24 April 2013 - 03:36
[Question] That’s your Virgin Galactic project. What’s ahead for that?
[Branson's Answer:] We’re hoping to break the sound barrier. That’s planned Monday. It will be a historic day. This is going to be Virgin Galactic’s year. We’ll break the sound barrier Monday and from there, we build up through the rest of the year, finally going into space near the end of the year. I’ll be on the first official flight, which we look to have in the first quarter of next year. We’re doing a number of test flights into space first.
Posted 29 April 2013 - 05:21
@SpaceGurlEvie: Best of Luck to pilots David Mackay WK2 @virgingalactic & Mark Stucky SS2 Scaled Composites on 1st powered flight tomorrow. Safe Landing!
Posted 29 April 2013 - 15:06
Posted 29 April 2013 - 15:31
Posted 29 April 2013 - 15:43
Posted 29 April 2013 - 16:17
Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo rocket plane lit up its engine for the first time in flight on Monday, taking a giant supersonic leap toward outer space.
The crucial blast took place at about 7:50 a.m. PT (10:50 a.m. ET), high above California's Mojave Air and Space Port. Virgin Group's billionaire founder, Richard Branson, was closely watching the proceedings. "What a feeling to be on the ground with all the team in Mojave to witness Virgin Galactic go faster than the speed of sound," Branson wrote in a blog post.
Branson wasn't the only one watching: Rocket aficionados flocked to viewing areas near the airport to see the blastoff. Until Monday, Mojave-based Scaled Composites, which is building and testing the plane for Virgin Galactic's eventual use, had tested SpaceShipTwo only by dropping it from its WhiteKnightTwo carrier airplane and having its pilots guide the plane back through unpowered glides back to the runway. The engine, powered by a rubber-based solid fuel and nitrous oxide, had been fired only on the ground.
Monday's test was radically different: WhiteKnightTwo released SpaceShipTwo from its traditional drop zone, at an altitude of around 50,000 feet. But after the rocket plane glides clear from the mothership, its pilot lit up the engine and pointed SpaceShipTwo upward into the sky for a roughly 16-second blast. After the engine cutoff, the plane coasted back to its landing back at the Mojave airport.
Test pilots Mark Stucky and Mike Alsbury were at SpaceShipTwo's controls for Monday's flight, Virgin Galactic said. Afterward, the company said in a tweet that the pilots confirmed "SpaceShipTwo exceeded the speed of sound on today's flight!"
Eventually, SpaceShipTwo could break the space barrier as well as the sound barrier — just as its predecessor, SpaceShipOne, did in 2004. When the single-piloted SpaceShipOne made repeated flights beyond an altitude of 100 kilometers (62 miles), which is the internationally accepted boundary of outer space, it won the $10 million Ansari X Prize for private spaceflight. Ever since then, Virgin Galactic has been funding the multimillion-dollar development effort to create a fleet of passenger space planes.
Posted 29 April 2013 - 20:34
VIRGIN GALACTIC BREAKS SPEED OF SOUND IN FIRST ROCKET-POWERED FLIGHT OF SPACESHIPTWO
Sir Richard Branson witnesses vehicle-proving milestone as company sets year-end goal for spaceflight
MOJAVE, Calif. – Today, Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s aabar Investments PJC, completed the first rocket-powered flight of its space vehicle, SpaceShipTwo (SS2). The test, conducted by teams from Scaled Composites (Scaled) and Virgin Galactic, officially marks Virgin Galactic’s entrance into the final phase of vehicle testing prior to commercial service from Spaceport America in New Mexico.
“The first powered flight of Virgin Spaceship Enterprise was without any doubt, our single most important flight test to date,” said Virgin Galactic Founder Sir Richard Branson, who was on the ground in Mojave to witness the occasion. “For the first time, we were able to prove the key components of the system, fully integrated and in flight. Today’s supersonic success opens the way for a rapid expansion of the spaceship’s powered flight envelope, with a very realistic goal of full space flight by the year’s end. We saw history in the making today and I couldn’t be more proud of everyone involved.”
The test began at 7.02am local time when SS2 took off from Mojave Air and Space Port mated to WhiteKnightTwo (WK2), Virgin Galactic’s carrier aircraft. Piloting SS2 were Mark Stucky, pilot, and Mike Alsbury, co-pilot, who are test pilots for Scaled, which built SS2 for Virgin Galactic. At the WK2 controls were Virgin Galactic’s Chief Pilot Dave Mackay, assisted by Clint Nichols and Brian Maisler, co-pilot and flight test engineer, respectively, for Scaled.
Upon reaching 47,000 feet altitude and approximately 45 minutes into the flight, SS2 was released from WK2. After cross-checking data and verifying stable control, the pilots triggered ignition of the rocket motor, causing the main oxidizer valve to open and igniters to fire within the fuel case. At this point, SS2 was propelled forward and upward to a maximum altitude of 55,000 feet. The entire engine burn lasted 16 seconds, as planned. During this time, SS2 went supersonic, achieving Mach 1.2.
“We partnered with Virgin Galactic several years ago with the aspiration to transform and commercialize access to space for the broader public,” said His Excellency Khadem Al Qubaisi, Chairman of aabar Investments PJC. “Today’s test is another key milestone in realizing that aspiration. Our partnership goes from strength to strength, and is an excellent example of aabar’s desire to participate in the development of world class technologies that are commercially viable and strategically important, both for the company, its shareholders, and for Abu Dhabi.”
The entire rocket-powered flight test lasted just over 10 minutes, culminating in a smooth landing for SS2 in Mojave at approximately 8am local time.
“The rocket motor ignition went as planned, with the expected burn duration, good engine performance and solid vehicle handling qualities throughout,” said Virgin Galactic President & CEO George Whitesides. “The successful outcome of this test marks a pivotal point for our program. We will now embark on a handful of similar powered flight tests, and then make our first test flight to space.”
In the coming months, the Virgin Galactic and Scaled test team will expand the spaceship’s powered flight envelope culminating in full space flight, which the companies anticipate will take place before the end of 2013.
“I’d like to congratulate the entire team,” said President of Scaled Kevin Mickey. “This milestone has been a long time coming and it’s only through the hard work of the team and the tremendous support of Virgin Galactic that we have been able to witness this important milestone. We look forward to all our upcoming tests and successes.”
Posted 29 April 2013 - 21:41
Its a lot smaller than I thought.
This version doesn't have enough power to make it into Orbit does it? Do you know if they have a plan for one that will get further into space? IE to the ISS?
Posted 29 April 2013 - 22:33
Posted 30 April 2013 - 08:28
Posted 30 April 2013 - 08:54
This may be really naive, and somewhat off topic, but can anyone explain why they can't fit jet engines to a shuttle type craft so it can fly itself to high enough altitude to switch to rockets, and then make a powered landing later? Sure, they'd have to protect such engines during re-entry, but is this not feasible for other reasons?