SpaceShipTwo Flies With Crew On Board For First Time

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The crew at Scaled Composites flew their new spaceship with a man on board for the first time last Thursday, Virgin Galactic has announced. Pilots Peter Siebold and Michael Alsbury flew inside the ship, which remained mated to its mothership Eve (WhiteKnightTwo) for the duration of the six-hour flight. The test flight was an important step toward the first free flight of the spaceship, Virgin said. The crew monitored the spaceship’s systems and functions, conducted several combined vehicle systems tests, and achieved all their objectives, according to the company website. It was the 33rd flight for the mothership and the third time the spaceship has been carried aloft. WhiteKnightTwo flew into EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh last summer, but so far it is not scheduled to appear this year, though EAA spokesman Dick Knapinski said he couldn’t rule it out. “Burt [Rutan] is busy right now with the testing program, so he won’t bringing [WhiteKnightTwo] as far as we know,” he told AVweb recently. “But Burt has surprised us from year to year … you just never know.”

Burt Rutan, whose Scaled Composites company designed and built the Virgin Galactic aircraft, will be at the show in Oshkosh next week, offering several forums and presentations. On Thursday, July 29, he’ll give talks about opportunities in commercial space in the future and the development of SpaceShipOne. On Friday, July 30, he is the keynote speaker for the forum on electric aircraft. He’ll also speak later in the day about motivating kids in the aviation field and will give a talk in the Homebuilders Hangar about the design and development of the Long EZ. On Saturday, July 31, he’ll reprise the story of SpaceShipOne and also offer his engineer’s critique of climate science.