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Virgin unveils spaceship designs

  1. Jan 23, 2008 #1


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    "The fact that this system will have the capability to launch small payloads and satellites at low cost is hugely important," he told the launch event at the American Museum of Natural History.

    "As far as science is concerned, this system offers tremendous potential to researchers who will be able to fly experiments much more often than before, helping to answer key questions about Earth's climate and the mysteries of the Universe."

  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 23, 2008 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    I'm missing something here - how could this system possibly launch a satellite from a sub-orbital vehicle traveling with a small fraction of the required energy?

    Otherwise, cool plane...
  4. Jan 26, 2008 #3
    Hmm, maybe the WhiteKnightTwo carrier ship could fly to the edge of the atmosphere while carrying a very heavy rocket, instead of carrying the SpaceShipTwo.

    I'm not sure, but does SpaceShipTwo represent the maximum payload capacity that WhiteKnightTwo can carry?

    Because if WhiteKnightTwo can lift a substantially heavier payload, perhaps then this would allow for micro-satellite launches.

    Bear in mind that micro-satellites can weigh just a few kg, in contrast to the heavier passenger cargo of SpaceShipTwo. Since SpaceShipTwo is designed to go 100 miles up, and micro-satellites would be aiming for perhaps 200 miles up in LEO, then perhaps the idea is quite doable.
  5. Jan 26, 2008 #4
    What I really liked was that the WhiteKnightTwo carrier ship has the flexibility/versatility to carry more than one kind of payload attached beneath. I'd read that Scaled Composites had already performed under contract an air launch flight of a Pegasus rocket, using its original WhiteKnight aircraft.

    The SpaceShipOne/SpaceShipTwo design with that innovative shuttlecock variable geometry feature is really cool. But the WhiteKnightOne/WhiteKnightTwo design for carrying stuff in between is very interesting in its own right.

    Could a heavier version of this WhiteKnight/WhiteKnightTwo concept be designed?

    If so, then it could become a multi-purpose aircraft suitable for a variety of tasks, making it more economically/financially self-sustaining.
    Besides launching space tourists and space payloads, it could be used as a general testing platform, carrying all kinds of payloads high into the sky, releasing them for test evaluation.

    Since the larger your rocket is, the farther your space tourists can go, I'd then imagine that the bigger your flyback booster is, and the heavier rocket it can carry, the better.

    So I'd wonder how big the WhiteKnight concept can be scaled upto?
    How big and how fast could it be made into?
    Could you do a Concorde, or XB-70, or B1-B design, to lift your spaceship really high and fast before release?
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2008
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