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Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo Returns to Mojave for Overhaul

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
November 1, 2021
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by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo VMS Eve mothership returned to the Mojave Air and Space Port in California on Saturday for the start of 8-10 months of upgrades and repairs. The dual fuselage airplane flew from its operating base at Spaceport America in New Mexico to the spaceport where it was built and first flew 13 years ago on Dec. 21, 2008.

VME Eve flew without SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity, which is also due for an overhaul in the months ahead. Virgin Galactic acknowledged WhiteKnightTwo’s return to Mojave on Twitter, but gave no reason why the suborbital space plane was not returned to Mojave at this time.

After upgrades are completed, Virgin Galactic plans to conduct two additional suborbital flight tests beginning next summer. One flight will carry three Italian researchers, who will conduct microgravity experiments. The second and final flight test will carry four company employees to evaluate the passenger experience.

Virgin Galactic plans to begin carrying passengers on commercial suborbital flights in late 2022. The flights would come 18 years after Sir Richard Branson announced plans to develop SpaceShipTwo in September 2004. Commercial flights were then scheduled to begin as early as 2007.

The relocation of WhiteKnightTwo came 10 days prior to Virgin Galactic reporting third quarter financial results on Nov. 8. The company is expected to report another large loss because of continued delays in VSS Unity‘s flight test program.

When Virgin Galactic went public on Oct. 28, 2019, the company was projecting commercial flights to begin in June 2020. That schedule has slipped about 2.5 years in the last two years.

7 responses to “Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo Returns to Mojave for Overhaul”

  1. ThomasLMatula says:

    I hope it returns to flight and VG is able to move forward.

  2. Schrodinger's Cat says:

    Meanwhile, NS-19 is looming in the near future….

  3. ThomasLMatula says:

    Very good article in the Santa Fe Mexican on Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America.


    Virgin Galactic’s struggles raise questions about New Mexico spaceport’s future

    By Scott Wyland [email protected]
    Oct 30, 2021 Updated Oct 31, 2021″

    • Douglas Messier says:

      Yeah. Some years back I heard a then employee of Spaceport America say they were trying to get to the point where the spaceport was no longer be a warning to others. The person meant that they were trying to make it economically self-sufficient. That’s been difficult when your anchor tenant can only get it up every few months or even years.

      In any event, I’m guessing that prospective spaceports in Italy, UAE and elsewhere are carefully watching what happens in New Mexico. They will be careful not to spend much money until VG can prove it can safely fly these vehicles on a regular schedule.

      • P.K. Sink says:

        …your anchor tenant can only get it up every few months or even years…

        Yeah…ever since I hit my seventies my anchor tenant has been having the same problem.

      • ThomasLMatula says:

        What is sad is that VG didn’t even need the Spaceport America site which was originally selected to service vertical launch systems. They could have used either Las Cruces International Airport or Roswell Airpark, saving hundreds of millions in construction costs spent to adapt Spaceport America to air launch and recovery.

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