The people who built the first private aircraft to fly into space are teaming up once again to construct the largest aircraft ever flown, a behemoth air-launched orbital cargo delivery system called Stratolaunch. And SpaceX, the first company to launch a privately built spaceship into orbit, will build the rocket. As a reusable rocket-plus-glider system, it certainly seems like a potential replacement for the space shuttle.
Peep this new roadable aircraft, the last creation of legendary aerospace designer Burt Rutan. Scaled Composites unveiled their new flying car to Aviation Week this week.
The Model 367 BiPod is a dual-fuselage, hybrid electric car-plane, which engineers at Scaled took from a preliminary design to first flight in just four months. It made its maiden trip March 30, just before Rutan's official retirement.
Virgin Galactic just keeps on ticking off the milestones on its way to becoming the first commercial company to take tourists on high-altitude flights to suborbital space and return them safely through the atmosphere to Earth. In the video below, we actually get to see Virgin’s SpaceShipTwo (aka VSS Enterprise) making its first “feathered” flight.
An undeniably Burt Rutan-esque aircraft has been spotted in the airspace just a few dozen miles south of Beale Air Force Base, prompting aerospace buffs to post the question: what is this Burt Rutan-esque aircraft doing in the air near Beale Air Force Base? Flight Global has since identified (possibly) the plane as Scaled Composites Model 355, but what's less clear is what sort of aircraft it might be.
We've seen concepts and a rare look behind the scenes during assembly, and now in the flesh: Raising champagne glasses in the shadow of a full-size ice statue of an Apollo astronaut, a group of soon-to-be space tourists joined Sir Richard Branson at the unveiling of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, now named "VSS Enterprise," in the Mojave desert last night.
As early as next year, if you are one of a lucky few, you may find yourself strapped in a six-passenger rocket some 50,000 feet above the Earth's surface, bracing yourself as it disengages from the specially designed jet plane mothership, and shoots cannon-like 60 miles up into suborbital space at three times the speed of sound. If all goes well, you'll then get to unbuckle and float in zero gravity for a full fifteen minutes, spying on the earth's curvature, all of North America and the Pacific Ocean.
This scenario is what Virgin Galactic is banking on. So much so that though the rocket is still unfinished they are already putting their first-picked passengers through flight training. And that is how Wilson da Silva, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Cosmos (the biggest-selling science magazine in Australia) found himself in Philly last month at the National Aerospace Training and Research (NASTAR) Center strapped into one of the most advanced centrifuge simulators on Earth shouting words that we cannot print here as 6 Gs of force pressed down upon him.
But first, some background.
Carrier craft for SpaceShipTwo makes its debut in Mojave California
By Michael BelfiorePosted 07.28.2008 at 7:11 pm 6 Comments
Virgin Group head Sir Richard Branson unveiled the latest addition to his air- and spaceline fleet at the Mojave Airport in California today, accompanied by the craft's chief designer, Burt Rutan.
The White Knight 2 is a four-engine jet that will carry an 8-seat spaceship called SpaceShipTwo to an altitude of 48,000 feet so that the spaceship can drop off and fire its rocket engine for a brief run to suborbital space. Branson's Virgin Galactic hopes to begin regularly scheduled passenger service to space in 2010.
We get a first peak at SpaceShipTwo and Branson's sexy new Galactic Girl logo
By Seth FletcherPosted 01.23.2008 at 3:53 pm 4 Comments
This morning at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, in front of a throng of international press, paying customers, and various captains of future industries, Branson, Scaled Composites CEO Burt Rutan, and other Virgin Galactic execs unveiled new designs for both White Knight and SpaceShipTwo. Branson says the two-ship combo will act as a catalyst to transform human access to space.
Aerospace wouldn't be the same without his contributions
By Michael MoyerPosted 08.29.2007 at 7:23 pm 0 Comments
Aerospace genius Dr. Paul MacCready, founder of AeroVironment, Inc., passed away yesterday at 81 after an undisclosed illness. He had a list of achievements that would make anyone proud. His Gossamer Condor won the Kremer prize in 1977 for a human-powered flight; its successor, the Gossamer Albatross, was the first human-powered airplane to cross the English Channel. He created GM's ground-breaking solar-powered car, the Sunraycer, excelled as both a sailplane designer and pilot, and he developed many high-altitude, long-duration unmanned vehicles, including NASA's Helios. Under his mentorship at AeroVironment, his team of engineers have done everything from develop miniature flying surveillance robots to design the most efficient ceiling fan blade ever.
Corporate and governmental bad guys are implicated in this documentary about the death of GM's beloved EV1 plug-in
By Eric AdamsPosted 07.10.2006 at 2:00 am 3 Comments
Burt Rutan, the visionary aircraft designer who created the first privately funded manned space vehicle, SpaceShipOne, told me a story recently about his EV1 electric car. He had happily driven the vehicle for years until General Motors decided not only to take it off the market but to take back all the leased vehicles that were on the road. "The day they came to get it, I was on the verge of hiding the thing in a cave," he recalled. "I was going to show them an obliterated, burned-up airplane carcass and say, 'There it is-go ahead and take it!'"