WhiteKnightTwo to Make Public Debut in July at EAA in Oshkosh


As the era of clean, safe, and affordable access to space dawns, the pioneers at Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites have again chosen EAA AirVenture Oshkosh as the stage for unveiling their innovations. After successfully completing its initial flight test program, space launch vehicle Virgin Mothership (VMS) Eve will make its world public debut on July 27 at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2009.

The space launch vehicle will arrive as part of the opening-day air show. AirVenture attendees will have opportunities for up-close viewing of the vehicle on the ground each day until its departure flight as part of the Saturday, Aug. 1 air show. Event organizers and Virgin Galactic officials are hopeful to arrange additional showcase flights during the week.

“This will be a major highlight of our event. Since the appearance of the X-Prize-winning WhiteKnight and SpaceShipOne at AirVenture four years ago, our members have eagerly awaited the next advancements from the Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites innovators,” said EAA president and AirVenture chairman Tom Poberezny.

“Burt Rutan, the chief designer of Virgin Galactic’s launch vehicle and spacecraft, truly embodies the EAA spirit. His accomplishments show how far our passion for building and flying aircraft can go. Over the decades, this EAA member has created some of the world’s most inventive designs, including the vehicles that will take private-citizen astronauts into space. We’re all eager to welcome Burt and his team back to Oshkosh,” Poberezny said.

“Likewise, the EAA community is eager to applaud Virgin Galactic for employing corporate muscle and mettle to bring ambitious dreams within reach,” he added.

Will Whitehorn, President of Virgin Galactic commented: “Our new launch vehicle, VMS Eve, is both visually remarkable and represents ground-breaking aerospace technology. It has a unique heavy lift, high altitude capability and an open architecture driven design that provides for maximum versatility in the weight, mass, and volume of its payload potential. VMS Eve is capable of lifting SpaceShipTwo, an unmanned satellite launch or space science vehicle and also being capable of use as an astronaut training vehicle. Its carbon composite construction also gives unprecedented fuel efficiency and the strength to perform high g maneuvers and parabolic flight,” he said.

“Together with Scaled Composites, we are delighted to be showcasing this incredible vehicle and demonstrating its capabilities in public for the very first time. It is particularly appropriate that we are doing this at the 2009 AirVenture event in conjunction with the EAA, which has done so much over the years to support and promote aerospace innovation,” Whitehorn added.

According to Whitehorn, Virgin Galactic plans to conduct test flights of VMS Eve carrying SpaceShipTwo during the second half of 2009.

Dwarfing its namesake predecessor, WhiteKnightTwo is the world’s largest all carbon composite flying vehicle. The 140-foot wingspan is the longest single carbon composite aviation component ever manufactured. The launch vehicle’s mission will include ferrying SpaceShipTwo and thousands of private astronauts, science packages, and payload on the first stage of the Virgin Galactic sub-orbital space experience.