credit: Airlaunch LLC / caption: Virgin Galactic cites parachute re-orientation as an air launch method
Following Flightglobal's exclusive regarding Virgin Galactic's discussions with potential developers of an unmanned satellite booster that could be air launched from the mothership WhiteKnightTwo, its president Will Whitehorn has emailed to Flight the name he prefers the proposed launcher to be known by
Hi Rob, just a brief comment on your recent piece, happy to agree I said all that about the prospects for unmanned launchers but the name SpaceShip Three would not become the working title for any such project were it developed as that naming sequence is already reserved for whatever human vehicle might be developed after SpaceShipTwo, if Virgin were to authorise further human carrying spaceship development at such time as the WK2/SpaceShipTwo project had been deemed commercially successful. Given your clear desire to label ideas of ours I hereby by dub whatever unmanned vehicle that is ever first developed, "Launcher One"!
(happy for you to post this)
The above message confirms that any manned vehicle following SpaceShipTwo will be called SpaceShipThree (SS3) and that Whitehorn prefers LauncherOne for the satellite launching rocket
Flight first wrote of a SS3 in 2005 when Whitehorn identified it as a possible orbital vehicle. However it is just as likely it could become the point-to-point trans-continental suborbital transportation system that has been discussed. NASA Ames is supposed to have been helping Virgin Galactic with this
In discussions with the company since the 2005 report the naming conventions adopted by Virgin Galactic and Virgin, Scaled Composites' joint venture The SpaceShip Company had been an open issue