VSS Enterprise

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
VSS Enterprise
SS2 and VMS Eve.jpg
A SpaceShipTwo (VSS Enterprise) carried by WhiteKnightTwo VMS Eve
Type Scaled Composites Model 339 SpaceShipTwo
Manufacturer Scaled Composites
Construction number 1
First flight 10 October 2010 (manned gliding flight)

29 April 2013 (powered flight)

Owners and operators Virgin Galactic
In service 2014?

The VSS Enterprise (Tail Number: N339SS[1]) is the first of five commercial suborbital spacecraft being constructed for Virgin Galactic by Scaled Composites.[2][3] It will also be the first ship of the Model 339 SpaceShipTwo class, based on upscaling the design of record-breaking SpaceShipOne.

The VSS Enterprise's name is an acknowledgement of the USS Enterprise from the Star Trek television series.[4] The spaceplane also shares its name with NASA's prototype space shuttle, as well as the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65), the first nuclear powered aircraft carrier, which has since been decommissioned. It was rolled out on December 7, 2009.[5] SpaceShipTwo made its first powered flight in April, 2013. Richard Branson said it "couldn't have gone more smoothly".[6]

Flight test program[edit]

Projections by Virgin Galactic in 2008 called for test flights to begin in late 2009 and commercial service to start in 2011.[7][8]

In October 2009, Virgin Galactic CEO Will Whitehorn outlined the flight test program for SpaceShipTwo. The test program includes seven phases:

  1. Vehicle ground testing.
  2. Captive carry under White Knight Two.
  3. Unpowered glide testing.
  4. Subsonic testing with only a brief firing of the rocket.
  5. Supersonic atmospheric testing.
  6. Full flight into suborbital space.
  7. Execute a detailed and lengthy appraisal process with the FAA/AST to demonstrate the system's robustness and eventually obtain a commercial launch license to begin commercial operations.[9]

On 22 March 2010, the SpaceShipTwo vehicle VSS Enterprise underwent a captive carry test flight, with the parent White Knight Two aircraft, VMS Eve, performing a short flight while carrying the Enterprise.[10] A second test flight was made on 16 May 2010,[11] reaching SS2's launch altitude (51,000 feet) and lasting nearly five hours, in order to facilitate "cold soak" testing of SS2's avionics and pressurization system. Thereafter, "a simulated spaceship descent/glide mission was made from [launch] altitude."[12] Between these two flights, the SpaceShipTwo airframe was modified by the addition of two interior fins, with one fin being added to the inside (rocket-side) of each of the craft's twin vertical stabilizers.[13]

On 15 July 2010, VSS Enterprise made its first crewed flight. The craft remained attached to VMS Eve as planned, and underwent a series of combined vehicle systems tests. The flight lasted a total of 6 hours and 21 minutes. A second, similar crewed flight of VSS Enterprise and VMS Eve was carried out on 30 September 2010, lasting approximately 5 hours. Among the objectives of these flights was the improvement of pilot proficiency, and the results of the flights were deemed to show that the systems were capable of supporting future glide missions.[11]

On 10 October 2010, VSS Enterprise made its first manned gliding test flight. It was released from VMS Eve at 45,000 feet and glided to a safe landing at the Mojave Air and Spaceport.[14][15][16] A second gliding test flight took place on 28 October 2010[17] and a third on 17 November 2010.[18] As of December 2010, Scaled reported that the flight test program is exceeding expectations.[19] The fourth test flight took place on 13 January 2011,[20] while the fifth and sixth glide flights occurred on 22 and 27 April 2011, respectively.[21] Following this, the feathered reentry configuration was tested in flight on 4 May 2011,[21] with weekly test flights continuing through the end of May.[21] On 9 June 2011, SS2 failed to separate from White Knight Two during its 11th planned glide flight due to a technical problem.[22] Testing resumed with five successful glide flights in June 2011.[21]

In July 2011, after 15 successful glide flights, flight testing of SS2 was halted for two months while planned revisions to the spaceplane were made.[23] Flight tests resumed in late September 2011, although the 16th glide flight – on 29 September – was marred by a brief loss of control aboard SS2, forcing the crew to utilise the feathered wing configuration to land safely.[24][25] This test was followed by another hiatus, during which some of the spacecraft's engine components were installed.[26] In June 2012, Scaled Composites received an FAA permit to conduct rocket-powered supersonic test flights.[27] SpaceShipTwo flight tests resumed in June 2012.[26][28]

In September 2012, Virgin Galactic announced that the unpowered subsonic glide flight test program was essentially complete. The company thereafter stated its intention to fit the hybrid rocket motor and control system to the vehicle, before resuming the glide flight test program with the rocket motor installed, in order to recharacterize the spacecraft's glide performance with slightly different weight distribution and aerodynamics.[29] In October 2012, Scaled Composites installed key components of the rocket motor, and SpaceShipTwo performed its first glide flight with the engine installed in December 2012.[30][31]

The spacecraft's first powered test flight took place on 29 April 2013, briefly driving SpaceShipTwo to a supersonic velocity.[32][33][34] Richard Branson said it "couldn't have gone more smoothly".[6]

On September 5, 2013, the second powered flight was made by the SpaceShipTwo. It broke the sound barrier achieving a speed of mach 1.43, and climbed to 69.000 feet (21 km) over the Mojave Desert under rocket power and descended using its tilt-wing "feathering" maneuver.[35] Space journalist Doug Messier reported that "the engine plume featured white smoke, not the black smoke seen on the April flight."[36]

On January 10, 2014, the third powered flight climbed higher than the previous flights, testing a new coating on the tail boom and other systems.[37]

List of test flights[edit]

Sources: [21][28][30][38][39]

Flight designation Date Duration Maximum altitude Top speed Pilot / co-pilot Feathered (Fxx)
149 / GF28 17 January 2014 14 min, 12 sec Siebold / Sturckow
147 / PF03 10 January 2014 12 min, 43 sec[40] 22,000 meters (72,000 ft)[37] 1.4 Mach Mackay / Stucky[41] F09
141 / GF27 11 December 2013. 11 min ? ? Stucky / Masucci None
132 / PF02 5 September 2013 14 min 21,000 meters (69,000 ft) 1.43 Mach Stucky / Nichols F08
131 / GF26[40] 8 August 2013 10 min ? ? Stucky / Mackay F07
130 / GF25[40] 25 July 2013 11 min, 52 sec ? ? Stucky / Mackay None
115 / PF01[33][42] 29 April 2013 13 min[40] 17,130 meters (56,200 ft)[40] Mach 1.22[40] Stucky / Alsbury[40] None
114 / CF01 12 April 2013 10 min, 48 sec  ?  ? Stucky / Alsbury None
113 / GF24 3 April 2013 9 min  ?  ? Stucky / Nichols F06
109 / GF23 19 December 2012 13 min, 24 sec  ?  ? Stucky / Alsbury None
93 / GF22 11 August 2012 8 min, 2 sec  ?  ? Stucky / Binnie None
92 / GF21 7 August 2012 9 min, 52 sec  ?  ? Siebold / Colmer F05
91 / GF20 2 August 2012 8 min  ?  ? Stucky / Nichols F04
90 / GF19 18 July 2012 10 min, 39 sec  ?  ? Siebold / Nichols None
88 / GF18 29 June 2012 13 min  ?  ? Stucky / Mackay None
87 / GF17 26 June 2012 11 min, 22 sec  ?  ? Siebold / Alsbury None
73 / GF16 29 September 2011 7 min, 15 sec  ?  ? Stucky / Nichols F03
68 / GF15 27 June 2011 7 min, 39 sec  ?  ? Siebold / Binnie None
67 / GF14 23 June 2011 7 min, 33 sec  ?  ? Stucky / Nichols None
66 / GF13 21 June 2011 8 min, 55 sec  ?  ? Siebold / Nichols None
65 / GF12 15 June 2011 10 min, 32 sec  ?  ? Stucky / Nichols None
64 / GF11 14 June 2011 13 min, 18 sec  ?  ? Siebold / Shane None
62 / (CC12) 9 June 2011 N/A (release failure) Planned glide test flight N/A Siebold / Shane None
61 / GF10 25 May 2011 10 min, 14 sec Above 15,240 m (50,000 ft)  ? Stucky / Binnie F02
60 / GF09 19 May 2011 11 min, 32 sec  ?  ? Siebold / Binnie None
59 / GF08 10 May 2011 13 min, 2 sec  ?  ? Stucky / Shane None
58 / GF07 4 May 2011 11 min, 5 sec 15,697 m (51,500 ft) 4,724 m per min (15,500 ft per min) Siebold / Nichols F01
57 / GF06 27 April 2011 16 min, 7 sec  ?  ? Stucky / Alsbury None
56 / GF05 22 April 2011 14 min, 31 sec  ?  ? Siebold / Shane None
47 / GF04 13 January 2011 11 min, 34 sec  ? 250 kn EAS 3.8 g Stucky / Nichols None
45 / GF03 17 November 2010 11 min, 39 sec  ? 246 kn EAS 3.5 g Siebold / Nichols None
44 / GF02 28 October 2010 10 min, 51 sec  ? 230 kn EAS 3 g Stucky / Alsbury None
41 / GF01 10 October 2010 13 min 14,020 m (46,000 ft) 180 kn EAS 2 g Siebold / Alsbury None
GFxx=Glide Flight
CCxx=Captive Carry Flight
CFxx=Cold Flow Flight
PFxx=Powered Flight

Future[edit]

Virgin Galactic aims to become the world's first commercial space line. The test-flight program is expected to continue through 2014, with future tests focusing on rocket motor testing and powered flights. Eventually, the rocket plane will be taken 60,000 feet above the Earth by its carrier and fire rockets to propel itself into space. A total of 370 customers have already placed a deposit (totaling $50 million) for a place on the flight, and about 80,000 people have placed their names on the waiting list. The trip will cost about US$200,000, and passengers will experience a few minutes of weightlessness during the suborbital flight.[43][44]

The passenger-carrying commercial launches will initially occur at Virgin Galactic's launch pad at Spaceport America, near Upham, New Mexico.

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "FAA N Number Registration for "VSS Enterprise"". Retrieved 2008-07-28. 
  2. ^ "Virgin Galactic to Offer Public Space Flights". Space.com. Associated Press. 27 September 2004. Retrieved 2008-08-12. 
  3. ^ "Scaled Composites PROJECTS". Scaled.com. Retrieved 2010-03-19. 
  4. ^ "SpaceShipTwo". SpaceTourism.ws. Retrieved 2008-08-12. 
  5. ^ "SpaceShipTwo Roll Out". Virgingalactic.com. 8 December 2009. 
  6. ^ a b "SpaceShipTwo makes first powered flight". 3 News NZ. April 30, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Coppinger, Rob, "SpaceShipTwo's mothership maiden flight", Flightglobal.com, December 21, 2008". Flightglobal.com. Retrieved 2010-03-25. 
  8. ^ Schwartz, John (January 23, 2008). "New Tourist Spacecraft Unveiled". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-12. 
  9. ^ Will Whitehorn (2009-10-27). International Astronautical Congress 2009: Civilian Access to Space (video, comments at c. 20:00). Daejeon, Korea: Flightglobal Hyperbola, Rob Coppinger. 
  10. ^ "Maiden flight for Branson's SpaceShipTwo". ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). 2010-03-23. 
  11. ^ a b WhiteKnightTwo/SpaceShipTwo Test Summaries, Scaled Composites. Retrieved 2010-05-21.
  12. ^ SpaceShipTwo Flown To Launch Altitude, Aviation Week, 2010-05-20, accessed 2010-05-21.
  13. ^ SS2 modifications. HobbySpace.com, 21 May 2010. Retrieved 2012-01-21.
  14. ^ "VSS Enterprise Completes First Manned Glide Flight". Virgin Galactic News, 10 October 2010. Retrieved 2011-11-21.
  15. ^ Cosmic Log — SpaceShipTwo flies free for first time, accessed 2010-10-10.
  16. ^ SS2 Test Moves Virgin Closer to Goal, Aviation Week, 2010-10-21, accessed 2010-10-23
  17. ^ "Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Spaceliner Completes 2nd Glide Flight". Space.com, 29 October 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-26.
  18. ^ David, Leonard (2010-11-19). "Virgin Galactic's spaceship aces 3rd glide flight". MSNBC. Retrieved 2010-11-22. 
  19. ^ SS2 Glide Tests Exceed Expected Progress, Aviation Week, 2010-12-23, accessed 2010-12-24.
  20. ^ Virgin Galactic - News
  21. ^ a b c d e Test Summaries. Scaled Composites. Updated 11 August 2012. Retrieved 17 August 2012.
  22. ^ WhiteKnightTwo flight test summaries. Scaled Composites. Retrieved 2011-11-21.
  23. ^ David, Leonard (2011-07-28). "Private Rocket Ship for Space Tourists Takes Break from Test Flights". SPACE.com. Retrieved 2011-07-30. 
  24. ^ "Private spaceship briefly hurtled out of control". MSNBC, 17 October 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-18.
  25. ^ "Virgin Galactic's private spaceship makes safe landing after tense test flight". Space.com, 17 October 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-18.
  26. ^ a b "SpaceShipTwo to resume flight tests as early as June". Flightglobal.com. 11 May 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2012. 
  27. ^ "SpaceShipTwo Gets Thumbs Up for Rocket-Powered Flights". Flying Magazine. 1 June 2012. 
  28. ^ a b "Virgin Galactic successfully completes SpaceShipTwo glide flight test and rocket motor firing on same day". SpaceRef.com, 28 June 2012.
  29. ^ Rosenberg, Zach. "Virgin Galactic finishes unpowered flight test". FlightGlobal.com. 13 September 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2012.
  30. ^ a b "SpaceShipTwo straps on its engine". NBC. 20 December 2012. Retrieved 20 December 2012. 
  31. ^ "SpaceShipTwo Fitted With Rocket Propulsion System". Aviation Week. 22 October 2012. Retrieved 14 November 2012. 
  32. ^ "SpaceShipTwo Test Summaries". Scaled Composites. 29 April 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2013. 
  33. ^ a b "VIRGIN GALACTIC BREAKS SPEED OF SOUND IN FIRST ROCKET-POWERED FLIGHT OF SPACESHIPTWO". Virgin Galactic. 29 April 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2013. 
  34. ^ "SpaceShipTwo makes first powered flight". 3 News NZ. 30 April 2013. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  35. ^ "Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Succeeds In Second Rocket-Powered Flight". Forbes. Retrieved 6 September 2013. 
  36. ^ Foust, Jeff (2013-09-06). "SpaceShipTwo flies a little higher and a little faster". NewSpace Journal. Retrieved 2013-09-07. 
  37. ^ a b "Virgin Galactic Reaches New Heights in Third Supersonic Test Flight". virgingalactic.com. 10 Jan 2014. Retrieved 10 Jan 2014. 
  38. ^ "Space Ship Completes 24th Test Flight in Mojave". HispanicBusiness.com. 4 April 2013. Retrieved 5 April 2013. 
  39. ^ "Virgin SpaceShipTwo aces 2nd flight test". Bakersfield Californian. 12 April 2013. Retrieved 15 April 2013. 
  40. ^ a b c d e f g "SpaceShipTwo Test Summaries". Scaled Composites. 8 August 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  41. ^ "Virgin Galactic spaceship makes third powered test flight". Chicago Tribune. 10 Jan 2014. Retrieved 10 Jan 2014. 
  42. ^ "SpaceShipTwo PF01: SS2 and WK2 preps underway". NewSpaceWatch.com. 28 April 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
  43. ^ "Virgin Galactic's spaceship makes solo flight". BBC News. 2010-10-10. 
  44. ^ "Virgin Galactic successfully tests VSS Enterprise". CNN. 2010-10-16. 
Spacecraft named Enterprise
NASA Space Shuttle (1976–1985)Virgin Space Ship (2009—)Star Trek starships (Fictional)