On the status of SpaceShipTwo

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the status of SpaceShipTwo (SS2) did not come up in any of the public presentations during Monday’s event in Mojave. I was able to eventually track down Burt Rutan and ask him what the status of the program was, particularly after he said to another interviewer that the investigation into last year’s accident was wrapping up. “Yes, it’s over, and there’s a report,” he said. “With our new owner [Northrop Grumman] and with the constraints we’re under it’s difficult to get things released, but we’re in the process of doing that.”

Rutan confirmed that the investigation was causing “a lot” of design changes for SS2. “We have not worked on SpaceShipTwo in a year,” he said, “because there’s a possibility that the propulsion system would be markedly different and we’d be building things that we would have to scrap.” He declined to comment on whether, in fact, SS2 will have a different propulsion system than originally planned, saying that details about any changes would be announced “in a different venue.”

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