Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo Ready For Oshkosh Launch

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In an online news conference on Monday, Virgin Galactic president Will Whitehorn said the WhiteKnightTwo space launch vehicle is ready to launch and will arrive at Oshkosh for the EAA AirVenture opening airshow at about 2:30 p.m. on Monday July 27. "It's an amazing vehicle," he said. The aircraft, which is the largest aircraft ever built by Scaled Composites, has a wingspan of 140 feet and is capable of lifting 17 tons to altitudes of 50,000 feet and more. So far it has flown 14 times and accumulated about 45 hours of flight time. Besides the plane's initital space-tourism mission, it will also be used for space science and to launch satellites into orbit. "What we're seeing is the dawn of a new industrial revolution in space," Whitehorn said. WhiteKnightTwo will also fly on Tuesday and Thursday, and will remain on static display all week until it heads home to Mojave at roughly 10 a.m. Saturday.

Scaled Composites President Doug Shane said everyone at the company is excited about bringing the aircraft to Oshkosh. "We'll be sending along a large team from Mojave," he said. Whitehorn said the construction of SpaceShipTwo is nearly complete and he expects it to fly for the first time by the end of this year.