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[专题] 维珍银河(Virgin Galactic)公司的WhiteKnight 2与SpaceShipTwo:借壳上市

jingyan66 发表于 2008-12-7 08:35 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式


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WhiteKnightTwo first flight, SpaceShipTwo roll-out dates tipped


SOURCE:Flight International
By Rob Coppinger

WhiteKnightTwo's first flight could be by 15 December and April 2009 is SpaceShipTwo's likely roll-out date, according to sources within the Virgin Galactic programme.

Flightglobal.com has also learned that aircraft integration issues with WK2's four Pratt & Whitney Canada PW308A engines held up the maiden flight that had been planned for mid-2008. That first take-off is expected to take place this month.

At the 4th Appleton space conference on 4 December at the UK's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Virgin Galactic president Will Whitehorn declined to confirm a date for the planned first take-off, but told Flight: "Very soon, it will fly very soon. There was one day there was a hop down the runway, it was over Thanksgiving."

He added that the US Federal Aviation Administration had already given authorisation for the flight. The FAA was unavailable to confirm that. Whitehorn denied that the roll-out of SS2 was set for April, but informed sources have told Flight that the second-quarter date, later than originally planned, was because the spaceline decided it wanted the spacecraft to be unveiled attached to the WK2.

[ 本帖最后由 jingyan66 于 2008-12-22 11:15 编辑 ]
 楼主| jingyan66 发表于 2008-12-13 12:22 | 显示全部楼层


Virgin Galactic 'mothership' to take first flight

19:24 12 December 2008 by Rachel Courtland
For similar stories, visit the Spaceflight Topic Guide

Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo is set to take is maiden flight in the next two weeks. The flight will be the first of dozens planned for the high-altitude craft, which could become the first privately-owned vehicle to carry tourists to the edge of space.

The high-altitude plane is designed to loft an eight-passenger craft called SpaceShipTwo to an altitude of 15 kilometres.

There, the spaceship will detach from WhiteKnightTwo and fire a rocket to take passengers some 100 km above the Earth, where they will experience several minutes of zero gravity (see illustration). The pair are scaled-up versions of a carrier plane and spaceship that won the $10 million Ansari X prize for private spaceflight in 2004.

Since WhiteKnightTwo's unveiling in July, the plane has passed engine and runway tests and taken small hops off the ground. The vehicle, which was developed at Scaled Composites in Mojave, California, is now ready to take off, says Virgin Galactic president Will Whitehorn.

"The first flight test will happen very quietly, as these things tend to do, but it will be before Christmas," Whitehorn told New Scientist.

Piloting WhiteKnightTwo may take some finesse. The plane is comparable in size to Boeing's B-29 Superfortress, a heavy, long-range bomber that flew during World War II.
 楼主| jingyan66 发表于 2008-12-17 09:10 | 显示全部楼层





  自7月被揭开神秘面纱以来,“白色骑士二号”已进行了发动机和跑道测试并上演短距离飞行。“维京银河”总裁威尔·怀特霍恩(Will Whitehorn)表示,这驾由位于加利福尼亚州莫哈韦的公司Scaled Composites研制的飞机正准备上演处女航。他在接受《新科学家》杂志采访时说:“与以前的做法一样,处女航也会悄悄进行,时间定在圣诞节之前。”驾驶“白色骑士二号”可能需要一定技巧,原因在于:它的个头与波音B-29“超级空中堡垒”不相上下,后者是一种重型远程轰炸机,曾参加第二次世界大战。


  “白色骑士二号”拥有两个机身,每个机身都设有机舱,两个机身由一条42米长的机翼相连,机翼可承受17公吨的重量。麻省理工学院航空工程师约翰·汉斯曼(John Hansman)说:“这种结构能够承受较大载荷。”但随着“白色骑士二号”在更高的高度飞行,驾驶员可能不得不关注颤动效应等问题——颤动效应指的是空气动力学作用下的机翼天然扭曲加剧。汉斯曼对《新科学家》表示:“在非常剧烈的情况下,强烈的摆动能够将飞机劈成两半。”但幸运的是,由于“白色骑士二号”采用相当坚固的碳合成材料,它对这种效应可能并不十分敏感。




 楼主| jingyan66 发表于 2008-12-22 11:13 | 显示全部楼层


WORLD EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: SpaceShipTwo's mothership maiden flight

SOURCE:Flight International
By Rob Coppinger

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo mothership WhiteKnightTwo made its historic 59min maiden flight at about 08:16 local time on 21 December from Mojave air and spaceport, reaching a maximum altitude of 16,000ft (4,880m).

The first test flight of the Scaled Composites designed twin-fuselage carrier aircraft with four Pratt & Whitney Canada PW308A engines follows taxi trials on the 20, 16 and 12 December, video of which Flightglobal.com obtained exclusively.

The high-speed taxi trial between 0830 and 1030 local time on 20 December saw four runs down the runway and a brief lifting of the nose gear, the 16 December saw spoilers deployed and a brief starboard main gear lock up that generated some smoke, and on the 12th there was a low-speed trip down a runway. During the maiden flight WK2 was followed by a Beechcraft King Air that had a camera crew on board.

"It reached an altitude 4,000ft above the original test plan's maximum altitude.That is how confident we are about the aircraft. Now we have to download all the data. There will be another flight early in the new year," says Virgin Galactic president Will Whitehorn.

The December maiden flight was almost abandoned due to snow, "they had had 9in (22.8cm) of snow and the [Federal Aviation Administration] has very strict rules on cross winds [for flight tests] so we almost had to cancel it," he added.

Whitehorn had previously spoken to Flight of a first take-off and landing that was "very soon" on 3 December at the UK's 4th Appleton space conference in Didcot, Oxfordshire. This embedded video shows the WK2 flyby during its maiden flight.

http://link.brightcove.com/servi ... 001/bctid5465369001
Video of the WhiteKnightTwo's take-off and landing has been posted at Rob Coppinger's blog Hyperbola.(WK2首飞视频,由Rob Coppinger提供)

Sources close to the Virgin Galactic programme had informed Flight of a first take-off and landing for WK2 "in the next ten days", by 15 December. Whitehorn had also told Flight on 3 December that the FAA had given approval for the test. However repeated enquiries by Flight to the FAA for confirmation of this were not answered.

On Thursday 11 December a former senior Virgin Galactic official said, infront of a Flight reporter at a Royal Aeronautical Society event, that the major milestone had been delayed from "Friday" but that he couldn't say more "due to the presence of press". A call to Whitehorn on Friday 12 December by Flight saw the spaceline president deny that that day had been the target date.

After the 12 December low-speed taxi trial Flight's Mojave sources considered Friday 19 December to be a likely next date for the first take-off and landing but subsequent snow fall and other weather conditions had seemed to put any pre-January attempt in doubt.

Scaled, which is based at the Mojave air and spaceport, begins its 12-day Christmas holiday period on 24 December, returning to work on 5 January.

Following the 28 July roll out of WK2 at Scaled's facilities the carrier aircraft was expected to fly in September. Its payload, SpaceShipTwo, should be unveiled next year. Initially used for practicing carrier flights with its mothership, by the end of 2009 Virgin Galactic hopes WK2 will be air launching SS2 for the spacecraft's own glide back flight tests.

Virgin Galactic hopes to start operating commercially by 2011 from the New Mexico Spaceport America. The new spaceport, soon to be under construction, announced that it had received its license from the FAA for horizontal and vertical space vehicle launches on 15 December and it expects to be fully operational in 2010.
 楼主| jingyan66 发表于 2008-12-22 14:10 | 显示全部楼层


[据《国际太空》杂志2008年12月21日报道] 用作商业太空旅游系统第一级的运载飞机“白骑士2号”在美国加利佛尼亚州莫哈维航空航天港成功进行首次试飞。

    Scaled Composites公司设计的“白骑士2号”沿跑道前进,随后利用4台普惠公司的PW308A涡轮发动机升空。“白骑士2号”此次试飞耗时约1小时,飞机于上午8点17分从跑道起飞,大约上午9点17分返回莫哈维航空航天港。

    在经历一系列震动试飞后,“白骑士2号”将安装目前还处于建造阶段的“太空船2号”。“太空船2号”由Scaled Composites公司负责建造。 “白骑士2号”负责将“太空船2号”带到一定高度并与之分离,“太空船2号”随即开始亚轨道太空飞行。



    2008年12月15日,新墨西哥州航天港管理局(NMSA)宣布,发射场获得美国联邦航空局商业太空运输办公室授予的垂直和水平发射活动许可证。几天后,NMSA宣布选择 Gerald Martin施工管理公司负责监察发射场的建造。NMSA预计将在12月底与维珍银河公司签署租赁协议。

 楼主| jingyan66 发表于 2008-12-22 17:38 | 显示全部楼层






  北京时间12月22日消息,据美国宇航局太空网报道,“白色骑士二号”(WhiteKnightTwo)是为一项商业太空旅游系统 (commercial spaceline system)的第一阶段设计的运载飞机,12月21日,这架太空航班母舰在加利福尼亚州莫哈维航空航天港首次成功试飞。

  造型独特的巨大母机“白色骑士二号”由Scaled Composites公司设计。试飞期间,它在4部普惠公司(Pratt&Whitney)的PW308A涡轮发动机的驱动下,沿着跑道飞驰,最后成功升空。“白色骑士二号”飞行了大约一小时,它在太平洋标准时间上午8时17分离开跑道,并于太平洋标准时间上午大约9时17分,在莫哈维沙漠航空航天港安全降落。


  经过多次试验飞行后,相关人员将给“白色骑士二号”配上目前正在制造的“太空船二号”(SpaceShipTwo) 。 “太空船二号”是一种用火箭飞机,也将由加利福尼亚州莫哈维的Scaled Composites公司还将制造。最终,“白色骑士二号”将把这种太空飞机带入高空,然后“太空船二号”与母机分离,开始进行亚轨道太空飞行。

  “白色骑士二号”和“太空船二号”结合后,将成为理查德·布兰森(Richard Branson)创建的维京银河(Virgin Galactic)公司亚轨道飞行的中流砥柱。维京银河已经订购了5架“太空船二号”火箭飞机和2架运载飞机。在莫哈维航空航天港进行试验评估后,这个太空旅游系统将在新墨西哥州目前正在建设的“美国太空港”展开商业运营。进行亚轨道太空飞行的“太空船二号”由两名飞行员驾驶,可运载6名乘客,维京银河公司目前提供的“太空船二号”太空之旅的票价为20万美元。



  这次试飞的一位见证人是迪克·鲁坦(Dick Rutan)。1986年12月,他在基纳·伊格(Jeana Yeager)的协助下,驾驶“旅行者”(Voyager)号进行环球飞行。他的弟弟伯特·鲁坦是Scaled Composites公司的技术总监和名誉退休董事长,他说:“一切进展非常顺利,所有重要事情都进行的非常顺利。试飞结果99%与最初设定的目标相符。面对这种结果,每一个人都非常开心。我们终于拥有这种非常不可思议的飞机了,它可以安全起飞,安全降落,乘坐非常安全。”


  2004年,一架更小一点的“白色骑士”号飞机曾将“太空船一号”发射升空。“太空船一号”发射系统让首架由私人研制的飞行器飞到太空边缘成为可能。那一年“太空船一号”完成了几次非常成功的飞行,为Scaled Composites公司赢得1000万美元安萨里X奖奖金。


hpyfy 发表于 2008-12-22 17:59 | 显示全部楼层
Nighthawk 发表于 2008-12-22 18:59 | 显示全部楼层
cmj9808 发表于 2008-12-22 19:38 | 显示全部楼层
 楼主| jingyan66 发表于 2009-1-10 12:51 | 显示全部楼层


Virgin Galactic denies reports of problems with space tourism project

Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic company has denied claims that the one of the craft in its space tourism project is suffering difficulties with its rudder.

By David Millward, Transport Editor
Last Updated: 10:00PM GMT 08 Jan 2009


Sir Richard Branson unveiled the Virgin Galactic WhiteKnight2 craft to carry space tourists in California in July Photo: EPA

Flight International has reported that WhiteKnightTwo, the mother ship, ran into trouble when making a series of ariel manouveurs.

WhiteKnightTwo is being used to carry SpaceShipTwo, the rocket which will take passengers into space.

The journal cited an unnamed source as providing the information about the supposed difficulties during the test flight at the Mohave Desert in California.

It claimed that Peter Siebold, the test pilot, was unable to keep the aircraft on the runway.

But this was denied by Will Whitehorn, Virgin Galactic's president.

"There are no issues we know of at all at this stage which will affect the programme or the overall design. It is beyond ridiculous," he said. "There is no problem with the flight."

"It was a highly successful test flight and everything is going to plan.," said Mr Whitehorn, adding that the next test flight would take place in a fortnight.

"We will begin testing the SpaceShipTwo rocketplanes in August and are optimistic that we will be flying into space with passengers by the end of the year."

Virgin Galactic expects to start commercial space flights next year, with passengers paying £150,000 for the trip.
Those who are reported to be interested in making the journey, joining Sir Richard and his family, are William Shatner, who appeared in Star Trek and Paris Hilton.
 楼主| jingyan66 发表于 2009-1-22 14:11 | 显示全部楼层


Virgin Galactic in SpaceShipThree talks

SOURCE:Flight International
By Rob Coppinger

Virgin Galactic is discussing with organisations in Europe a two-stage expendable satellite launcher, previously referred to as SpaceShipThree, that would be launched from its WhiteKnightTwo mothership.

Speaking to Flight International at the 4th Appleton space conference at the UK's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Virgin Galactic president Will Whitehorn said that an all-composite two-stage rocket , launched from WK2 using commercial off-the-shelf solid rocket motor technology could put a 200kg (440lb) satellite into orbit.

Whitehorn said his company's study found that a two-stage booster using hybrid rocket motor technology developed for SpaceShipOne could put a 100kg satellite into orbit. He declined to identify the organisations interested in the satellite launcher, but said they were in European countries that had a relevant capability. These are likely be France, Germany and Sweden.

Revealing a new maximum altitude for WK2, Whitehorn said: "It could reach 70,000ft [21,350m], but would not fly that high for launching SpaceShipTwo. A two-stage rocket dropped at [70,000ft] could use a parachute system [to right itself for rocket ignition]. We would not build the satellite launcher."

Virgin Galactic says WK2's payload capability is 17,000kg to 50,000ft. The parachute system is a concept employed by Mojave, California-based Airlaunch. Airlaunch and WK2 designer Scaled Composites have been partners with space transport system developer t/Space.

Airlaunch drop-tested the system using its Quickreach rocket from a Boeing C-17 Globemaster in 2005 and 2006 under a US Department of Defense contract.

Airlaunch personnel were not aware of any Virgin Galactic co-operation when Flightglobal.com spoke to them at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Space 2008 conference in San Diego in September.
 楼主| jingyan66 发表于 2009-1-23 12:38 | 显示全部楼层

SpaceShipTwo的Rocket Motor Two (RM2)发动机点火试验成功

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo has rocket motor test success

SOURCE:Flight International
By Rob Coppinger

Virgin Galactic's Rocket Motor Two (RM2) propulsion system for its SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle has successfully completed hot firing tests.

With the SS2 experimental prototype's construction more than 75% complete, Virgin Galactic is planning flight-testing before the end of the year. Trials will begin with carrier flight tests using the rocket glider spacecraft's mothership, WhiteKnightTwo, which made its maiden flight on 21 December 2008.

"There is a programme under way with RM2 to mirror rapid progress on the [WK2] flying programme and SS2 final construction, but we are saying no more than that," Virgin Galactic president Will Whitehorn told Flight International. The spaceline's latest quarterly newsletter revealed that tests of a rocket motor had taken place.

Whitehorn declined to provide any more detail. "We don't give out details like this for potential competitors beyond what is said on the newsletter website," he said.

The SS2 prime contractor Scaled Composites' founder Burt Rutan said in July 2008 that paraffin- and asphalt-based solid fuels had been tested, for what is now known as RM2.

California based-space technology company Spacedev has been contracted by Scaled Composites to assist the company in developing RM2. The last newsletter for 2008 of the commercial spaceflight news website The Lurio Report said that Spacedev had conducted nitrous oxide flow tests. But the technology company was not available to confirm this.

In 2004 the Scaled Composite-designed SpaceShipOne's rocket motor used gaseous nitrous oxide as its oxidiser and hydroxyl terminated polybutadiene as its solid fuel, to carry its pilot, and ballast representing two more people, for two flights into space, one in September and one in October.

The RM2 oxidiser and fuel has been the subject of speculation given the larger, eight-person SS2's energy needs to reach space.

If SS2's test-flight programme emulates the SS1's, it will first be carried by its carrier aircraft WK2, then air dropped so it can glide back to the runway, then launched for horizontal rocket-powered supersonic flights and, finally, make a maiden ascent into space. Virgin Galactic is aiming for a late 2010 first commercial flight.
 楼主| jingyan66 发表于 2009-2-5 17:17 | 显示全部楼层







 楼主| jingyan66 发表于 2009-2-7 09:54 | 显示全部楼层

WK2第二次飞行加装了漩涡发生器(vortex generators)

WhiteKnightTwo second flight with vortex generators added

SOURCE:Flight International
By Rob Coppinger

To counter a fishtail issue Virgin Galactic’s twin fuselage carrier aircraft WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) is suspected to have, vortex generators are pictured here added to its vertical stabilisers prior to its second flight. Taking off from Mojave air and spaceport’s runway 30 on 5 February the WK2 returned to testing with a 1.5h flight with a Beech Starship chase plane. The aircraft did a low pass and then a touch-and-go before finally touching down. This second flight took place about seven weeks after its maiden flight on 21 December 2008.
hkhtg090201 发表于 2009-2-7 11:22 | 显示全部楼层
漩涡发生器(vortex generators)?
cmj9808 发表于 2009-2-7 14:14 | 显示全部楼层
原帖由 hkhtg090201 于 2009-2-7 11:22 发表
漩涡发生器(vortex generators)?

 楼主| jingyan66 发表于 2009-2-10 08:25 | 显示全部楼层
本帖最后由 jingyan66 于 2009-2-10 08:27 编辑

WhiteKnightTwo during its first test flight last December. Virgin Galactic hopes to use that aircraft and SpaceShipTwo for applications beyond suborbital space tourism. (credit: Virgin Galactic)

Virgin looks beyond space tourism(维京的意图不仅仅在于太空旅游)
by Jeff Foust
Monday, February 9, 2009

For most of the general public, not to mention many people within the space industry itself, suborbital spaceflight has become synonymous with a single market, space tourism. There are any number of other markets that the new generation of suborbital vehicles under development could serve, from microgravity science to remote sensing to astronaut training, but those are largely lost in the shadow cast by tourism. This lack of attention isn’t surprising, given the popular interest in personal spaceflight and the potentially large size of that market.

Similarly, the one company arguably most closely associated with suborbital spaceflight and space tourism is Virgin Galactic. The combination of Virgin’s financial resources, its marketing prowess, and its association with the technical expertise and experience of Scaled Composites, has put the company at the forefront of this emerging field. However, as Virgin Galactic president Will Whitehorn explained during a speech Friday at the FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Crystal City, Virginia, the company is interested in markets beyond space tourism as well—thanks, ironically, to its efforts to best serve the space tourism market.

Saved by its customers

As Whitehorn explained in his speech, Virgin Galactic’s original plan back in 2004 was effectively to develop a commercial version of SpaceShipOne that would have entered service as early as 2008. That was the preference of the Virgin Group’s board, who was making the investment in Virgin Galactic, he said.

However, the company reconsidered those plans after talking with Virgin Galactic’s first customers. “The early customers came in and said, ‘If we’re going to pay $200,000 to fly to space, we are not getting into a cramped little environment with no more space than a MiG,’” Whitehorn recalled. “‘If we’re going to pay you $200,000, we want to do what they do in the movies… I want to experience weightlessness, I want to move around the cabin.’”

The problem with the SpaceShipOne design was that its cabin was too small to allow the three people it accommodated to move around much in weightlessness. That feedback was like “manna from heaven” for the Virgin and Scaled teams, Whitehorn said, since it forced them to move directly ahead to a much larger spacecraft that would have sufficient volume to enable people to move around, and thus also a larger aircraft—something that they had wanted to do all along but not as soon as originally foreseen.

“If we just rebuilt WhiteKnightOne and rebuilt SpaceShipOne, we would have basically been restricted to space tourism for a period of time until we then could have developed a second model,” Whitehorn said. “Luckily we were saved by the early customers.”

Scaling up to a larger vehicle allows Virgin to address markets beyond space tourism, Whitehorn said, with four in particular of interest to the company. The first is suborbital scientific research, ranging from atmospheric and space sciences to microgravity experimentation. A market study performed for Virgin by an outside group found that there is over $300 million a year in NASA funding alone dedicated to sounding rocket research, space life sciences work, education, and aeronautics that could be addressed by SpaceShipTwo (SS2).

Virgin has already made a small step into that market with an agreement announced last fall with NOAA to carry atmospheric sensors on the WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) carrier aircraft as well as SpaceShipTwo; some of that data will be used to help calibrate NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory spacecraft slated for launch later this month. That agreement is under a no exchange of funds basis, but he said that the agreement itself helps burnish the company’s scientific credentials for other customers.

Two other markets the company is looking at with the WK2/SS2 combination are astronaut training and technology testing and demonstration. The astronaut training, Whitehorn said, could be done using either WK2 or SS2: in addition to flying parabolic arcs to provide brief periods of microgravity, the aircraft can also create up to 6 Gs of acceleration to simulate the forces or launch and reentry. “That’s a supremely interesting capability, and we believe there will be a market for it,” he said.

The last, and perhaps most intriguing, market Virgin is examining is low-cost launches of small satellites. In this scenario WK2 would carry aloft not SS2 but an expendable booster of some undetermined design capable of placing up to 200 kilograms into low Earth orbit. Virgin is working with the company widely considered to be the leader in the smallsat industry, Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), to study the viability of this market. (Ironically, SSTL was acquired last year by EADS Astrium, a company that has announced plans to develop its own suborbital spaceplane.)

The goal of this effort would be to develop a system that could launch smallsats for no more than $2 million, with the flexibility to launch from almost any location, and to go from contract to launch in a matter of weeks. One complicating factor is that Virgin doesn’t have any money now to spend on development on the expendable booster. “I work for a very visionary organization, and they are funding us through one of the most difficult economic periods in history to get WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo finished,” Whitehorn said. “But if I went to ask them for the money to build a smallsat launcher at the same time, I know what the answer would be, so I haven’t been to ask them.”

He added, though, that there are a number of existing launch vehicles that could be readily adapted to launch from WK2. Virgin is in “early-stage” discussions with a number of vehicle developers in this area, he said, as well as working with SSTL to study the smallsat market.

Whitehorn’s point was that none of these additional markets beyond space tourism would have been enabled had Virgin stuck with its original plans for a SpaceShipOne-sized vehicle. “If we just rebuilt WhiteKnightOne and rebuilt SpaceShipOne, we would have basically been restricted to space tourism for a period of time until we then could have developed a second model,” he said. “Luckily we were saved by the early customers.”

Will Whitehorn talks about Virgin Galactic and the markets it is pursuring in a speech February 6 at the FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference. (credit: J. Foust)

Sizing up the competition

Late in his speech Whitehorn took a few minutes to compare Virgin Galactic with a number of other ventures in this market, particularly in their ability to serve markets beyond space tourism. “We went for what we went for because of the flexibility we could see in the first stage air launch,” he explained. “That doesn’t mean to say that other systems won’t have a relevance eventually to space tourism” but, he believes, would not be well-suited to access other markets.

For example, he said that Virgin looked at spaceplanes like those proposed by Astrium and Rocketplane Global that take off under jet power and later light a rocket engine to fly to space, but didn’t “intrinsically like” it because of the jet engines and reentry profile. “It could work,” he said, “but the problem is that it’s just for space tourism. I couldn’t see other applications for these kinds of technologies.”

As for XCOR’s Lynx Rocketplane, Whitehorn had a similar assessment: feasible, but limiting. “I think these guys can make this work, there’s no doubt about it,” he said. “But for us, it doesn’t do the job that we want it to do… It’s not much good for anything else but tourism.”

“It could work,” Whitehorn said of the spaceplanes proposed by EADS Astrium and Rocketplane Global, “but the problem is that it’s just for space tourism. I couldn’t see other applications for these kinds of technologies.”

He was more dismissive of other ventures, including Armadillo Aerospace’s vertical takeoff and landing design unveiled last year, where two people fly inside a large clear bubble. “If goldfish want to go to space, it’s spot on,” he quipped. He also wasn’t keen about a more obscure company, Copenhagen Suborbitals, which has proposed a small rocket with just enough room for a single passenger. “It doesn’t do the job for the customer too well, since you’re not going to experience a lot of weightlessness.”

Those assessments were no doubt controversial, particularly since some of these companies are indeed going after markets like suborbital science and technology demonstration. (Indeed, an executive with one of those companies was seen having a spirited conversation with Whitehorn after his speech.) It also excludes companies like Masten Space Systems and TGV Rockets that are largely ignoring space tourism in favor of science and other markets.

Current status and future plans

Whitehorn’s speech came just one day after WK2 flew its second test flight from Mojave Air and Space Port in California. He said that he and Richard Branson “got a very excited email from Burt [Rutan]” after the flight, which Whitehorn said was “flawless”. Another Virgin Galactic official, Enrico Palermo, said during a panel session later Friday at the conference that the aircraft flew to an altitude of about 5,500 meters (18,000 feet) during the hour-and-a-half flight, reaching speeds of 240 km/h (130 knots).

While WK2 continues its series of test flights, work on SS2 continues. Whitehorn said that the spacecraft is now “just under” 80 percent complete, and is on track to begin glide tests by the end of this year. He did not specify any other schedule milestones for the program, including when WK2 and SS2 would enter commercial service.

While Virgin examines these other markets, the company is continuing to build its customer base for its space tourism flights. Whitehorn said that the company has nearly 300 customers now and $39 million in customer deposits. Despite the current economic crisis, he said they continue to sign up customers, including two earlier that week. A few customers have asked for their deposits back, including one person who lost all his money in the Bernard Madoff scandal. “He could say to us that actually we were one of only investments he’d made that hadn’t gone bad” because he was able to recover his $200,000, Whitehorn said.

“If WhiteKnightTwo works, and SpaceShipTwo works, and we make a commercial success with it, I’m pretty sure there will be a WhiteKnightThree and a SpaceShipThree.”

That space tourism market, he said, forms the core of a “serious investment opportunity” for Virgin. “We don’t need, to make money out of the system, to do anything but the tourism part,” he said. However, in addition to the science and training markets the company is interested in, Whitehorn sees possibilities in launch and other alternative WK2 payloads, as well as patented intellectual property in the system. “The rest is going to be the bonus,” he said.

Whitehorn said that once WK2 and SS2 enter service, the system could potentially be profitable in its first year, and soon thereafter even become a publicly-traded company. “It’s quite clear that, obviously subject to market conditions in a couple of years’ time, we’d be able to IPO this business potentially.” He added that they were now open to considering “relevant external investment” provided those opportunities offer industrial partnerships or other synergies.

Those additional markets and the revenue they generate would, in turn, lead to the development of a WhiteKnightThree and SpaceShipThree, although exactly what form those vehicles would take isn’t yet known. “We’re not planning a WhiteKnightThree, we’re not planning a SpaceShipThree,” Whitehorn said. “But I work for Virgin. If WhiteKnightTwo works, and SpaceShipTwo works, and we make a commercial success with it, I’m pretty sure there will be a WhiteKnightThree and a SpaceShipThree.”
 楼主| jingyan66 发表于 2009-2-19 15:04 | 显示全部楼层

UK government to back air-launched satellite launcher

SOURCE:Flight International
By Rob Coppinger

The UK government is prepared to fully support the development of the air launched micro satellite carrying rocket proposed by Virgin Galactic and Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL).

Although SSTL has written to the UK government's civil space activity coordinating body, the British National Space Centre (BNSC), requesting phase A study support for the launcher a senior BNSC official told Flight that it will see the project through to the end.

Potentially starting this April the 12-month study will produce a concept design, development schedule and costs. SSTL started talking to Virgin Galactic in mid-2008 and its own market analysis convinced it that the growing worldwide micro satellites market would support such a service. An all composite two-stage rocket could place 200kg (440lb) into low Earth orbit. This analysis was provided to Virgin Galactic, which agreed with SSTL's conclusions, and has since named the rocket LauncherOne.

"Two thirds of our missions are spacecraft below 200kg and launch availability is a real challenge for us," says SSTL UK and Europe business development manager Philip Davies, referring to the company's difficulty in finding scheduled launches with payloads that can piggy-back its customers' satellites.

He added that a third party would have to develop the rocket, neither SSTL or Virgin Galactic will do it. While US company Scaled Composites is developing LauncherOne's WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft, Davies thinks that the rocket manufacturer could be a UK company although he expects some US motor components will be needed.
hkhtg090201 发表于 2009-2-19 16:15 | 显示全部楼层
WK2 没有 ‘飞马座’的母机 厉害吧?
 楼主| jingyan66 发表于 2009-2-20 11:38 | 显示全部楼层

UK government to back air-launched satellite launcher

SOURCE:Flight International
By Rob Coppinger

The UK government is prepared to fully su ...
jingyan66 发表于 2009-2-19 15:04


    [据《国际飞行》杂志2009年2月18日报道]  英国政府准备全面支持维珍银河公司和萨里卫星技术公司(SSTL)提议的空中发射微卫星运载器计划。



    SSTL公司的相关负责人在提到公司载荷的预定发射困难时称,该运载器三分之二的发射任务都是重量低于200千克的卫星,这对发射的实用性是一个挑战。他又补充说,火箭可能将由除SSTL和维珍银河公司以外的第三方研制。美国的Scaled Composites 公司正在研制“运载器一号”的“白骑士二号”运输飞行器。他认为,火箭的最终建造可能由英国公司承担,但预计将需要美国的某些发动机配件。
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