EAA Confirms WhiteKnightTwo Will Fly At AirVenture
As has long been expected, EAA confirmed this week that the Virgin Mothership Eve, also known as WhiteKnightTwo, will make its public debut at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, on opening day, Monday, July 27. The space launch vehicle, which is the largest carbon-fiber aircraft ever built, will be on view all week, departing during the Saturday airshow. EAA said it hopes to arrange showcase flights during the week. "This will be a major highlight of our event," said EAA President and AirVenture Chairman Tom Poberezny. "Since the appearance of the X-Prize-winning WhiteKnight and SpaceShipOne at AirVenture four years ago, our members have eagerly awaited the next advancements from the Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites innovators." The ship has a unique heavy-lift, high-altitude capability and an open architecture-driven design that provides for maximum versatility in the weight, mass and volume of its payload potential, said Will Whitehorn, president of Virgin Galactic. Besides serving as a launch vehicle for SpaceShipTwo, VMS Eve can also be used to launch satellites, conduct space science projects and train astronauts. "Its carbon composite construction also gives unprecedented fuel efficiency and the strength to perform high g maneuvers and parabolic flight," Whitehorn said. The ship has a 140-foot wingspan. Burt Rutan, chief designer for Virgin Galactic's spacecraft, is scheduled for two forums on Wednesday, July 29, one during the day at the Honda Pavilion and one in the evening at Theater in the Woods.
According to Whitehorn, Virgin Galactic plans to conduct test flights of VMS Eve carrying SpaceShipTwo during the second half of 2009. The launch vehicle's mission will include ferrying SpaceShipTwo and thousands of private astronauts, science packages, and payload on the first stage of the Virgin Galactic sub-orbital space experience.