The Spaceship Company has taken a key step on the path to completing the next spaceship in Virgin Galactic’s fleet. The team has attached the structure of SpaceShipTwo’s unique ‘feather system’ to the wing of the new vehicle, in what is the union of two major components of the airframe. This latest milestone is the final step prior to resting the vehicle’s weight on its wheels.
The feather is one of the most innovative features on the SpaceShipTwo flight system, giving the vehicle the unique capability to change its shape in space to ensure a safe, flight proven, aerodynamically controlled re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere on a repeated basis.
The Virgin Galactic fleet is being built by its development and manufacturing arm, The Spaceship Company, in Mojave, California. The build process is based on a modular plan and each part of the spaceship is assembled separately before being placed together. VSS Unity, the first spacecraft, was also built by The Spaceship Company and is progressing through its flight test program with the next two vehicles in production.
CEO of Virgin Galactic, George Whitesides said, “Completing this milestone is an important moment in the build of our next spaceship and signals that our fleet is starting to take shape. We have specifically designed our space system with a fundamental focus on safety, customer experience and reusability and the feather mechanism is key to enabling how we do this.”