Rollout Planned for WhiteKnightTwo
SpaceShipTwo’s mothership to arrive
by G B Leatherwood
“Git’n ‘er done!” must be the operating phrase around the shops at Scaled Composites, Burt Rutan’s company that successfully built and flew the world’s first private aircraft to the edge of space. This craft, SpaceShipOne, reached the fringe and claimed the Ansari X-Prize while the other competitors watched from the stands or on their TV sets.
Now Rutan, continuing the relationship with British businessman and billionaire Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, is just about ready to roll out their WhiteKnightTwo, a two-stage-to-suborbital-spacecraft. WhiteKnightTwo will carry SpaceShipTwo (a larger, more advanced version of the X-Prize-winning spaceplane) under its carbon fiber wing and launch it into suborbital space with six passengers and a crew of two.
The initial ground tests are scheduled for the end of July at the company’s facility at the Mojave Air and Space Port, with testing continuing until the Scaled Composites experts are satisfied that it is flight ready, but with expectations that this could be as early as September.
Make no mistake. This is the real thing—a real suborbital spacecraft carrying real paying passengers onto the edge of the next frontier.