Burt Rutan, of Scaled Composites, and Sir
Richard Branson, of Virgin Galactic, unveiled the long-awaited White
Knight Two aircraft in Mojave, California, on Monday morning.
The Virgin Galactic model in the EAA Welcome Center.
Photo by Phil Weston
In a dramatic morning ceremony, this
successor to the legendary White Knight One aircraft was rolled out of
its hangar in front of a gathering of media and industry
representatives. Assembled media at Oshkosh took part in a video
conference held at the EAA Vette Theater and had the opportunity to ask
questions of Virgin Galactic President Will Whitehorn and Scaled
Composites' Bob Morgan.
White Knight Two, which is the product of
a long list of technical firsts, is designed to be the launch vehicle
for Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, which is destined to be the first
craft to carry paying passengers on suborbital flights.
In addition to its suborbital launch
mission, Whitehorn said that White Knight Two would be capable of
launching small payloads, and possibly even a single-passenger vehicle,
into low earth orbit.
They also envision other,
non-space-related missions such as carrying large, heavy cargo and even
water-bombing for firefighting.
At the Mojave rollout, Branson's mother, Eve Branson, christened the
first White Knight Two aircraft with the name Eve.
In keeping with Scaled's long-standing
policy of not announcing development schedules, it declined to say when
the aircraft's first flight would be, or any other development dates.
But AirVenture attendees can find out the
latest on the project right here in Oshkosh. A model of Space Ship Two
is on display throughout the week at the EAA Welcome Center. On Tuesday,
its inventor, Burt Rutan, will fly to Oshkosh with Branson and Whitehorn
for two special AirVenture events on Tuesday: 1 p.m. at Honda Pavilion 7
as well as during Tuesday's evening program at Theater in the Woods.