SS2/WK2 new design: first look

Here’s an artist’s impression of the new design of SpaceShipTwo and White Knight Two:

WK2/SS2 in flight

Perhaps the biggest change not previously hinted at is the dual cabin design of WK2; the number of engines on the aircraft as well as the changed wing location had been previously reported. Skimming through the press release (available, along with many more illustrations, here) and the various media accounts, I did not see much in the way of other new developments and insights, but not being at the event, I may be missing something that will come to light later as other accounts are published.

7 comments to SS2/WK2 new design: first look

  • Peter Shearer

    The dual cabin was hinted at. It was said months ago that one cabin would be the “next-up” for their rocket flight and the second one would sell cheap tickets to simply ride up and watch a rocket launch. (cheap as an airline ticket)

  • Chance

    That is so neat.

  • Gary C Hudson

    “The dual cabin was hinted at. It was said months ago that one cabin would be the “next-up” for their rocket flight and the second one would sell cheap tickets to simply ride up and watch a rocket launch. (cheap as an airline ticket)”

    This raises a certification problem. By statute, FAA/AST can approve using WK2 in revenue service for suborbital flight support, but I think only the FAA/AVR can approve passengers flying on WK2 to observe the flight of SS2. That means full certification for WK2, not just an suborbital permit from AST.

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  • Peter Shearer

    From the blog on wired.com http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/01/spaceshiptwo-un.html this is the more official explanation…
    “One cabin for astronaut training passengers, other could be used for special science missions, environmental research. Gives you a great view of the launch.”

    As I was thinking about it today it may be less of a selling tickets to watch a launch and more of family members and friends riding up in the second WK2 cabin to watch their family/friends launch.

    Another interesting factoid about this twin hull arrangement… Any time the aircraft rolls left or right (to initiate a turn) one cabin will feel plus G’s and the other negative G’s. I’m sure the pilots will make the rolls as slow and gradual as possible but in situations of turbulance and crosswind it could get interesting.

    Also, are there going to be pilots in both cabins? Two pilots in each? One in each? Two in one with two extra “passenger” seats in the other?

    Thank you Burt Rutan for another aviation curveball! :)

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