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Aerospace Spaceship 1/2

  1. Feb 6, 2009 #1
    I have a question about spaceship 1 and/or 2. (Virgin Galactic)

    I have noticed that when it gets to its altitude (200k or is it more?) that the rear of the wing section moves forward?

    Why is this? and whats the theory and technical side of whats going on?

    I was thinking that this must add a great deal of weight to the design? so was wondering of there was a way around the whole section moving, thus cutting weight, which would cut fuel costs at least?

    I am very surprised that no one else is in the running at present to offer this type of service, or are there other companies at the same stage?

    Then, moving on to the mother ship (Whitenight)

    Why does it have such an unconventional design? does this reduce drag as oppose to just attaching it to the belly?

    Loads of questions, so thanks for any light that can be shed on this,
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 6, 2009 #2


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    Pretty sure its max altitude is 100km. That's the official limit of "in space".

    What do you mean by "unconventional design"? This is a first; there is no convention yet.

    The wing tilts for the purpose of aerodynamic drag, so that the craft doesn't burn up falling like... well, like a missile.

    They would have picked that design based on weight budget, simplicity and reliability. There are many other designs out there - one deploys rotors like on a helicopter.
  4. Feb 6, 2009 #3


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    I believe the design of the White Knight mothership was inspired by the P-38 Lightning aircraft. The two widely spread outboard engines with the weight of the fuselage in this case the spacecraft) centered between them is a very stable configuration.

    Although it is correct that the wing tilts for the purpose of aerodynamic drag (and perhaps to keep reentry attitude from being personally vertical), an object falling straight down from 100 m would not burn up.

    And yes, there are several other companies working toward the same goal as Virgin Galactic. There were 26 teams competing for the X-Prize, and several of them are still hoping to find their niche in the space tourism market. Burt Rutan, Paul Allen and scaled composites simply got there first.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2009
  5. Feb 6, 2009 #4


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    Well it doesn't fall straight down (can't seem to find how fast it is going at the top of the arc). Regardless, Spaceship one doesn't have the ability to withstand or dissipate the heat that is generated by very high speed flight (it's speed is about equal to the SR-71, which was made of titanium to withstand the heat), so it would be destroyed by the temperatures generated on the downside of it's ballistic trajectory. Perhaps not burn-up per se, but things would certainly start to melt. From the website:
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  6. Feb 7, 2009 #5
    Thanks for all that, really answered my questions.

    Was just thinking one other thing, i am gussing this tilting wing will have a patent upon it, so what is the alternative to this to get the same results that the tilt wing provides?

    Thanks again
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