WhiteKnightTwo Suffers Gear Collapse

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Scaled Composites' WhiteKnightTwo (Eve) was involved in what the company is calling "a minor incident" early Thursday, when its left-side landing gear collapsed while the aircraft was on the runway at Mojave. According to Scaled, "no injuries were sustained and the incident did not involve the Spaceship, which was not attached to WhiteKnightTwo." The vehicle was involved in its 37th flight test at the time. WhiteKnightTwo is purpose-built to carry SpaceShipTwo (Enterprise) between its twin boom fuselages and deliver "space tourists" a temporary sub-orbital weightless experience for a ticket price, through Virgin Galactic, of $200,000 per person.

Eve is designed to carry Enterprise to about 50,000 feet, where the smaller craft is released for airborne launch. The smaller vehicle carries up to eight people, two as pilots and six as passengers. Virgin Galactic says more than 340 people have signed up for the ride, with deposits starting "from $20,000." WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo made their first conjoined, crewed flight on July 15. There is no formal projected date for the first commercial flight.