22 December 2008
News - Vehicles (Good)
WhiteKnightTwo Makes Her Maiden Voyage
A successful test flight for Scaled Composites
by G B Leatherwood
WhiteKnightTwo, the twin fuselage carrier for the sub-orbital vehicle SpaceShipTwo, took off for its maiden flight 21 December 2008 from the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, CA. WhiteKnightTwo, or “WK2,” flew for an hour.

Space Insider Columnist Leonard David reported that Will Whitehorn, President of Virgin Galactic, said, “…[WK2] really is also a first stage space launch system capable of carrying enormous weight to the edge of the atmosphere, training astronauts with her zero to six G flying capability and being a scientific payload platform at the same time."

WK2 is unique in that it is constructed almost entirely of composite materials, a trademark of Rutan’s design, including the Voyager aircraft flown non-stop around the world by brother Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager in December 1986. WK2 is powered by four Pratt and Whitney PW308A turbofan engines.

After a number of shake-out flights, WK2 will be outfitted with its primary cargo, SpaceShipTwo, or “SS2,” for tourist trips to the fringe of space, possibly as early as 2011. SS2 is currently under construction at the Scaled Composites plant in Mojave.
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G B Leatherwood 22 December 2008
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