Updated Schedule for SpaceShipTwo Testing

Aviation Week
has a lengthy update on the test schedule for SpaceShipTwo. A brief summary:

  • The plan: Begin powered flights by the end of 2012, commercial flights from New Mexico in late 2013
  • High drop-test flight tempo over the next few months to get through un-powered flight envelope by end of Summer
  • SpaceShipTwo has been modified with larger strakes on the inboard sides of the vertical tails to deal with a stall problem discovered during a test last September
  • The modifications will require the pilots to “re-clear” parts of the flight envelope evaluated during early glide tests, i.e., repeat the earlier flights
  •  Integration of remaining RocketMotorTwo components is set for the Fall
  • Powered flights will start with burns of RocketMotorTwo lasting 15 seconds at the end of this year
  • First five powered flights will go transonic and not require a full-duration motor
  • Initial powered tests will be followed by longer RM2 burns above 200,000 feet
  • The June 1 SS2 taxi tests were to test modifications to the wheels and brakes necessitated by the increased weight of the propulsion system
  • The Spaceship Company has begun work on producing parts and components for additional SS2s and WhiteKnightTwos
  • A full-scale replica of SpaceShipTwo will appear this week at the Farnsborough Air Show, during which Virgin Galactic plans several announcements.

Read the full story.