The following text is the expanded notes from my 23 January interview with Virgin Galactic president Will Whitehorn.
The registration number for SpaceShipTwo (SS2) is N339SS and the White Knight II (WK2) is N348MS. The Virgin Group has a 15 year licence for technology from SpaceShipOne (SS1) from its financier Paul Allen’s Mojave Aerospace Ventures.
SS2 has cold gas reaction control system. It also has a controlled reentry in comparison with SS1s “carefree” reentry. The internal atmospheric pressure of SS2 could be sea level.Part of the test programme for SS2 is to select the internal pressure level. “We’re well ahead” on environmental control and life support system (ECLSS) to meet regulatory safety requirements. Whitehorn referred to Virgin group company Virgin Train’s safety systems on its UK operating Pendolino trains as an example of how the company goes beyond legal safety requirements.
ECLSS – no window fogging (an issue with SS1?). Will use bleed air from WK2. Temperature control unnecessary due to volume of air internally. The WK2 and SS1 ECLSS is the same.
Collaboration with Scaled on the Virgin Atlantic Globalflyer was deliberate as part of WK2/SS2 development.
Nose skid is a new development on the one used for SS1. Still using it although SS2 lands at a speed above 115kt. SS2 main landing gear to be conventionally acquired.
The SS2 entry hatch is on the left hand side (looking from the cockpit) and there is an escape hatch on the right hand side of the fuselage, about mid-way back.
The manual control system for SS2 has been patented.
The mating/release mechanism for WK2/SS2 is a hook system. An improved version of SS1 and White Knight’s. The WK2 could make a Viking departure during take-off without its SS2 payload. Although engines are Pratt & Whitney PW308 the engines’ nacelles are from Scaled.
Can reduce ticket cost with two flights of SS2 a day. And then we can fund a satellite launcher. First considered flotation for Virgin Galactic as far back as 2004
Looked at UK’s 1960s British Aircraft Corporation Tactical Strike/Reconnaissance (TSR) 2 project in detail when considering possible government invollvement and concluded from TSR2 study to avoid government involvement.