FAA grants Scaled Composites permit to Launch Suborbital SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo

(Best Syndication News) - Virgin Galactic announced that their vehicle developer, Scaled Composites (Scaled), was given the OK by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to launch a suborbital spacecraft named SpaceShipTwo and the carrier aircraft named WhiteKnightTwo. Virgin Galactic is the world’s first commercial spaceline that has the goal of taking private travelers into space.

"This important milestone enables our team to progress to the rocket-powered phase of test flight, bringing us a major step closer to bringing our customers to space," said George Whitesides, president and CEO of Virgin Galactic. "We thank the FAA for their timely issuance of this permit, and for their responsible oversight of the test program."

SpaceShipTwo has completed 16 free test flights. They have tested the vehicle’s ability to feather upon re-entry and they have also been testing the rocket motor. WhiteKnightTwo has completed 80 test flights. Both are still in the testing phase.

Scaled will now be able to move forward and test the rocket-power more thoroughly since the FAA has granted them a permit. SpaceShipTwo will continue to test aeordynamics with the full weight of the rocket motor system installed. To put the rocket motor system on the vehicle will take some time and the company is expected to continue these test flights in the fall. The rocket powered supersonic test flights, which were just permitted, are expected to occur around the end of 2012.

SpaceShipTwo will be the first permitted by the FAA to fly a rocket-powered test vehicle with humans onboard. In 2004, SpaceShipOne was with humans and was flown into space, but that was before there was an Experimental Permit was required from the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation.

By: Julie Marcus
Science and Technology Writer

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