As always, we have tried to pack it with useful and enjoyable content covering all aspects of the Virgin Galactic project and the Future Astronaut community. We have also tried to include as much clarity as possible on project status and timelines. You will therefore find a detailed project update in the Newsletter, and an insight into the current status of the development program.
Overall great progress has been made in the last few months, including:
· Our third powered test flight on 10th January.
· Taking delivery of WhiteKnightTwo from Scaled Composites on 11th February.
· The VG team subsequently starting their first annual inspection of WhiteKnightTwo, which will complete over the next few weeks.
· Assembling and installing the first seats into SpaceShipTwo.
· Nearing the end of the technical review process for our operating license with the FAA.
So when can you expect to see WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo back in the skies? WhiteKnightTwo should be flying again following her annual inspection within a month. SpaceShipTwo will follow, by June / July. As you know, what we are doing is incredibly challenging and the technology is pioneering. Each test, on the ground or in the air, gives the teams more data to analyse and act on. So at the moment the engineering and technical teams are fine-tuning the spaceship and rocket motor, in order to optimise performance and embed safety for the final push to space. We won’t recommence our powered test flight program until this work is done, as we expect to then undertake a rapid succession of powered flights which will see progressively longer motor firings, greater speed and higher altitudes. This will culminate in a maximum motor burn duration and maximum apogee flight, which is the point where Scaled Composites hand the spaceship over to us.
Timelines, as ever, are dictated by the successful completion of each sequential milestone which you can read more about in the Newsletter. Our base plan is currently structured to recommence powered flights in the summer and to fly Richard on the inaugural commercial flight by the end of this year; something which the whole organisation is geared up to achieve.
We would welcome your feedback, and as always, thank you for your support.