SpaceShipTwo Rolls Out

On Monday Virgin Galactic unveiled SpaceShipTwo, the world’s first commercial spaceline, at Mojave Spaceport. The Virgin Galactic spaceline plans to operate a fleet of five of these craft in passenger-carrying private spaceflight service starting no earlier than 2011. More than 65,000 would-be space tourists have applied for the first batch of 100 tickets. The price will initially be $200,000. The duration of the flights will be approximately 2.5 hours, though only a few minutes of that will be in space.

Sir Richard Branson and Burt Rutan led the press conference, special recognition went to the team at Scaled Composites whose hard work and dedication have made this happen. Governors Bill Richardson and Arnold Schwarzenegger both contributed at the press conference, celebrating this huge milestone and also joining Holly, Richard’s daughter in naming the spaceship, VSS Enterprise.

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo VSS Enterprise

The spaceship was carried down the runway by her mothership, VMS Eve, to a spectacular display of lights, music and snow.

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Virgin Galactic Rolls Out Mothership “WhiteKnightTwo”

Virgin Founder, Sir Richard Branson and SpaceShipOne designer, Burt Rutan, today pulled back the hangar doors on the new WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) carrier aircraft that will ferry SpaceShipTwo and thousands of private astronauts, science packages and payload on the first stage of the Virgin Galactic sub-orbital space experience.

Virgin Galactic WhiteKnightTwo

Virgin Galactic WhiteKnightTwo Mothership Eve

Virgin Galactic WhiteKnightTwo Nose Art

The rollout represents another major milestone in Virgin Galactic’s quest to launch the world’s first private, environmentally benign, space access system for people, payload and science.

Christened “EVE” in honor of Sir Richard’s mother, who performed the official naming ceremony, WK2 is both visually remarkable and represents ground-breaking aerospace technology. The plane, powered by four Pratt and Whitney PW308A engines, is the world’s largest all carbon composite aircraft and many of its component parts have been built using composite materials for the very first time. At 140 ft, the wing spar is the longest single carbon composite aviation component ever manufactured.

Video – WhiteKnightTwo Mothership Roll-Out

See also Virgin Galactic unveils SpaceShipTwo

Source: Virgin Galactic
Photo Credit: Virgin Galactic

Russian Space Shuttle Buran Transported to German Museum

Currently the Soviet Space Shuttle Buran 002 is being transported to the German Sinsheim Technology Museum, where it will become the world’s first genuine space shuttle to be exhibited to the general public. (scroll down for photos) The Russian orbiter, one of only a few built, was acquired by the “Technik Museums Sinsheim and Speyer” in cooperation with an Australian consortium of volunteers and honorary members.

After more than 10 years of observation and 4 years of law suit with a business man from Singapore, the spacecraft is finally on its way to find its place in one of the most renowned museums in Germany.

On Thursday, 6 March 2008, the space shuttle was loaded from a storage site on a ship in Manama/Bahrain. The route was then leading via the Arabian Gulf, the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea, Suez Channel, the Mediterranean Sea with course to the Straits of Gibraltar. Thereafter it passed Portugal and France en route to the English Channel and on to Rotterdam.
In Rotterdam the shuttle was prepared for land transport and loaded onto a pontoon-boat, going down the river Rhine in a tug formation from Rotterdam to Speyer (100km south of Frankfurt/Main), today.

The Technik Museums Sinsheim and Speyer are being supported by a non-profit-making organization with more than 2.000 members worldwide. It is the goal of this organization to preserve technological cultural assets for posterity and to support and encourage the interest in technological developments.
The museums are being financed exclusively from the admission charges paid by visitors as well as from donations and membership subscriptions.

The Technik MUSEUM SPEYER is currently building a new museum hall with a height of 22 meters and an exhibition area of 9000 m². As soon the hall has been completed the Russian space shuttle will be placed into the new hall to have its wings, landing gear, instruments and rudder re-attached in order to make everything fit for exhibition.

The Museum is planning to have everything ready by mid-summer.

Actually there are tons of photos from enthusiastic watchers at Flickr.
Here I present you a little selection. Please note, every image will lead to a separate image gallery containing many more photos!
Buran in Rotterdam 5. April 2008 (23) Space Shuttle Buran _DSC0339 Buran in Duesseldorf 02 Buran on Rhine 8 Buran 3 dsc04062.jpg Buran Buran (on Rhine) Remagen #2

Technik Museum Speyer: The whole story about acquiring and transporting the Buran
Technik Museum Speyer
Wikipedia: Buran Spacecraft

Virgin Galactic unveils SpaceShipTwo

Virgin Galactic unveiled the design of its new space launch system based on the X Prize winning technology of SpaceShipOne, which successfully flew into space for the third time in October 2004 and won the $10m Ansari X Prize.

The construction of the White Knight Two (WK2) mothership, or carrier aircraft, is now very close to completion at Scaled Composites in Mojave, CA and is expected to begin flight testing in the summer of 2008.

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo
Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo

White Knight Two (WK2) Specs

  • World’s largest, all carbon composite aircraft
  • It has a unique high altitude lift capacity, capable of launching SpaceShipTwo and its eight astronauts into sub-orbital space flight
  • Is powered by four Pratt and Whitney PW308A engines which are amongst the most powerful, economic and efficient engines available
  • Has also been designed to be capable of lifting other payload and launching it into space

SpaceShipTwo Specs

  • Length: 60FT
  • Wing Span: 27FT
  • Tail Height: 15FT
  • Cabin: 90″ Diameter x 12FT long
  • Windows: 13″ – 17″ in Diameter
  • Launch Altitude: Above 45000FT – 14000Meters
  • Pay Load: 6 Passengers & 2 Pilots
  • Apogee: > 70Miles – 110KM
  • Max Speed: Mach 3.5 – 2600MPH – 4200KPH
  • Powered By: Hybrid Rocket System – Uses liquid oxidizer tank and a solid fuel (CTN)

Both Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic believe the system has sufficient lifting capability to launch unmanned vehicles designed to carry small satellites and other scientific payload into low earth orbit. While the first priority for Virgin Galactic is developing the market for human spaceflight, the Company is already assessing the potential for unmanned launch capability.

SpaceShipTwo is now nearly 60% complete. It incorporates both the lessons learned from the SpaceShipOne program and the market research conducted by Virgin Galactic into the requirements future astronauts have for their space flight experience. It also has built-in flexibility to encompass future requirements for other scientific and commercial applications.

Whilst the two vehicles comprising the space launch system have been under construction, Virgin Galactic’s cadre of future astronauts has continued to grow strongly to well in excess of 200 individuals with around 85,000 registrations of interest to fly. The deposit base now exceeds $30m representing more than $45m of future income to the fledgling spaceline.

Credit & Source: Virgin Galactic

First Pictures – Spaceport America terminal and hangar facility unveiled

The New Mexico Spaceport Authority and representatives from the architectural/design team for Spaceport America unveiled renderings of the main terminal and hangar facility at a press conference in Las Cruces.
URS Corporation and Fosters + Partners was awarded the design of the 100,000 square-foot facility, which will serve as the primary operating base for Virgin Galactic and headquarters for the New Mexico Spaceport Authority.

Spaceport America

The U.S.-British team created a low-lying, striking design that uses natural earth as a berm, and relies on passive energy for heating and cooling, with photovoltaic panels for electricity and water recycling capabilities. A rolling concrete shell acts as a roof with massive windows opening to a stunning view of the runway and spacecraft.

Spaceport America Spaceport America Spaceport America Spaceport America

A prominent United Kingdom architectural firm, Foster + Partners has extensive experience in designing airport buildings. They are well known for constructing many high-profile, high-tech glass and steel buildings worldwide. Company founder Lord Foster said, “We are absolutely thrilled to be part of the dynamic team chosen to design the world’s first space terminal. This technically complex building will not only provide a dramatic experience for the astronauts and visitors, but will set an ecologically sound model for future Spaceport facilities.”

The world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport is designed to convey the thrill of space travel while making a minimal impact on the environment. The low-lying, organic shape resembles a rise in the landscape, and will use local materials and regional construction techniques. A careful balance between accessibility and privacy is achieved, as visitors and astronauts enter the building through a deep channel cut in the landscape. The walls will form an exhibition area leading to a galleried level above the hangar that houses the spacecraft and on through to the terminal building. Natural light enters via skylights, with a glazed façade reserved for the terminal building, establishing a platform for spectacular views onto the runway.

Kelly O’Donnell, Chair of the NMSA, is pleased with the design of the hangar and terminal facility. “The design created by the URS/Foster team is outstanding in the way it blends in with the environment, creating a shape that is both distinctive and functional while complementing the landscape,” O’Donnell said.

Working together with Foster + Partners on the project, URS Corporation is one the largest engineering and design firms in the world, and a prominent contractor for the United States government. With offices in the Americas, Asia-Pacific region, and Europe, URS is a full-service, global organization providing architectural and design services in 20 nations. “The URS team is very pleased to have been selected for this breakthrough project,” said Jens Deichmann, vice president of URS Corporation. “Our team of New Mexico, regional, and international talent is excited to help the State of New Mexico and Virgin Galactic advance their goals of commercial space travel and scientific and engineering education.” Designed to have minimal embodied carbon and few additional energy requirements, the spaceport has been planned to achieve the prestigious LEED Platinum accreditation. The low-lying form is dug into the landscape to exploit the thermal mass, which buffers the building from the extremes of the New Mexico climate as well as catching the westerly winds for ventilation.

The terminal and hangar facility are projected to cost about $31 million, and will provide a destination experience for visitors to Spaceport America. It will include Virgin Galactic’s pre-flight and post-flight training facilities and lounges, as well as the maintenance hangar for two White Knight 2 and five Spaceship 2 aircraft. The building will also be home to the NMSA, and provide a destination experience for visitors.

Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic said, “I am delighted that New Mexico has chosen this excellent team to design Spaceport America. Their track record is exciting enough, but the vision for the world’s first purpose-built private spaceport is truly out of this world.” Looking to the future, Branson said, “Next year will see the first test flights of Spaceship 2 and it is fantastic that we will now have a permanent home to go to, which will be every bit as inspiring for the astronauts of the future as Burt Rutan’s groundbreaking technology.”

NMSA is currently finalizing contract negotiations with URS and Foster + Partners. The team will then begin working with the NMSA and Virgin Galactic to finalize the design of the facility, and the NMSA expects to put the construction of the facility out for bids in the first half of 2008. Meanwhile, the other elements of the spaceport, including roadways, runway, security, water, power and communication systems, are currently being designed by DMJM: AECOM and will be put out for construction bids later this year. Construction of Spaceport America will begin in 2008, immediately after the FAA issues the site operator’s license to the NMSA. Completion is expected in late 2009 or early 2010.