We are all going to have to wait till late January for the official unveiling of Virgin Galactic’s Scaled Composites’ designed and developed White Knight II (WK2), SpaceShipTwo (SS2) launch system but at the third Rutherford Appleton Laboratory space conference in Didcot, England, yesterday Galactic’s president Will Whitehorn gave us all a sneak peak at the company’s progress
I am still hoping that Galactic can provide us with the photos he showed the audience but I can report that I saw an incomplete SpaceShipTwo simulator and the outboard section of what I am guessing is the starboard White Knight II wing
The simulator was seen from its rear and at a distance and atop a (mobile?) platform of some sort. It had what appeared to be two straight backed seats and windows beyond them that were quite flat – suggesting to me perhaps a Dyna-soar like profile at the nose although Whitehorn said that SS2 looked like SpaceShipOne but was more “Buck Rogers”.
Dyna-soar was to be the follow-on from the X-15 and I know that ex-X-15 programme engineers helped out on SpaceShipOne and so is it to much of a stretch of the imagination to think that maybe Dyna-soar provided some or all of the inspiration for SS2?
We were also told that WK2 would be more like the Virgin Atlantic Globalflyer, but here at Flight we knew that and had already created these two concept images based on the changing designs we have discovered, with the WK2 drawn specifically to be like Globalflyer.
The wing outboard section photo Whitehorn showed had some people standing by the wing giving it a scale to suggest it was the tip end. It was metallic in colour just like many of the epoxy resin composite structures you see around. However it also occured to me that as Globalflyer used its wings as fuel tanks I could have been looking at a metal mandrel or mold – depending on Scaled’s manufacturing approach.
You can read more about what Will Whitehorn said here