Blog Articles, Trivia Burt Rutan, SpaceShipTwo, SS1, SS2, Statement, VSS Enterprise
A statement from Burt on Sunday’s milestone
I offer my congratulations to all those on our commercial manned sub-orbital spaceship program for yesterday’s milestone first flight of SpaceShipTwo.
Configuration/aerodynamic designer, Jim Tighe got it right the first time; our spaceship demonstrated impressive flying qualities right out of the box. Its flight test-measured stability and gliding performance exceeded the pre-flight predictions.
Systems that usually require post-first flight tweaking, like the unique Michael Fuchs-designed landing gear and the SS1-based flight-director/avionics system, developed by the Pete Kalogiannis-led team, performed to perfection. The flight control, electrical, pneumatic, ECS and launch systems were also flawless on the first flight, giving us confidence that we can move forward with the testing without major modifications. Scot Story’s team also deserves kudos for their work to develop a light, robust all-composite airframe structure.
Flown by both pilot Pete Siebold and co-pilot Mike Alsbury on the first flight, the test crew opened up two thirds of SS2’s required subsonic speed envelope, maneuvered it above 2-g, checked its dynamic and sideslip handling, exercised its flight-path control system and made a perfect landing; spot-on the runway target.
I congratulate Project Lead Matt Stinemetze, Mission Control Lead Brian Binnie and their team of talented engineers as well as Crew Chief Steve Losey and his team of fabricators who built and maintain the first commercial manned space system. There is not a better group of research and flight test talent in the world.
We at Scaled look forward to an aggressive flight test schedule. The fun started on 10/10/10 and will continue as we reach our goal of passing onto our customer a spaceship capable to provide the space experience to thousands of adventurers.
News SpaceShipTwo, Successful Manned Glide Flight, Virgin Galactic, VSS Enterprise, WhiteKnightTwo
Last Oct. 10, Virgin Galactic, the US company developing the world’s first commercial manned space flight system and tourism business, announced the successful completion of the first piloted free flight of SpaceShipTwo, named the VSS Enterprise. The spaceship was released from its mothership at an altitude of 13,700 meters.
The first flight of the spaceship was piloted by Pete Siebold, assisted by Mike Alsbury as co-pilot. The two main goals of the flight were to carry out a clean release of the spaceship from its mothership and for the pilots to free fly and glide back and land at Mojave Air and Space Port in California.
Other detailed objectives of the flight were successfully completed, including; verification that all systems worked prior and following the clean release of Enterprise; initial evaluation of handling and stall characteristics; qualitative evaluation of stability and control of SS2 against predictions from design and simulation work; verification of performance by evaluating the lift-to-drag ratio of the spaceship during glide flight; practice a landing approach at altitude and finally descend and land.
The WhiteKnightTwo mothership (Eve) flew 40 times including 4 captive carry flights of spaceship and mothership mated together. The most recent captive carry was on Sept 30. The most recent solo flight was on Oct 5 and demonstrated that all the systems required for a free flight by the VSS Enterprise were functioning correctly without any safety issues. Commenting on the successful flight Scaled Composites pilot, Pete Siebold, said “The VSS Enterprise was a real joy to fly, especially when one considers the fact that the vehicle has been designed not only to be a Mach 3.5 spaceship capable of going into space but also one of the world’s highest altitude gliders.”
Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, who was present during the first successful flight, added “This was one of the most exciting days in the whole history of Virgin. For the first time since we seriously began the project in 2004, I watched the world’s first manned commercial spaceship landing on the runway at Mojave Air and Space Port and it was a great moment. Now, the sky is no longer the limit and we will begin the process of pushing beyond to the final frontier of space itself over the next year.”
George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic who was also present at the historic flight, added “To see the world’s first manned commercial spaceship landing on a runway is a sight I always dreamed I would behold. Now, our challenge going forward will be to complete our experimental program, obtain our FAA licence and safely bring the system into service at Spaceport America, New Mexico.”