More curious scheduling from Branson

Last week we noted that Richard Branson had a more ambitious schedule for Virgin Galactic than company officials have recently stated, claiming that “Virgin Galactic will take off in November”. That statement, made in Boston last week, doesn’t appear to be an isolated incident. The German magazine Stern has an article this week about Virgin Galactic [in German], where Branson makes similar claims. In particular, he appears to state that SpaceShipTwo test flights will be in August or September, and after a few months he and his family would fly as it officially entered service. (I say “appears” based on a crude translation of the German article, as well as the fact that it doesn’t specifically mention SpaceShipTwo by name.) Branson also adds that the venture’s cost is the same as a single 747; according to Boeing a 747 costs between $235 and $305 million, depending on the 747 version ordered.

Meanwhile, RLV and Space Transport News reported this week that SpaceShipTwo could be “unveiled” at the AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin at the end of July. As some people who have commented on this post note, it’s not clear what “unveiled” means in this context, since the vehicle would presumably be ferried there by air from Mojave by WhiteKnightTwo and thus be visible to anyone seeing the takeoff from Mojave or landing in Oshkosh. (One way around that, perhaps, would be to send the vehicle by truck from Mojave under wraps.) WhiteKnightTwo is already slated to appear at Oshkosh, but one wonders what the impact would be on the development and testing of SS2 if had to go out to Oshkosh and back.

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