A post on Wired’s Autopia blog caught my attention yesterday: “Exclusive Video of Virgin Galactic’s Test Flight”. Wired claimed to have obtained “exclusive video of Virgin Galactic’s recent test flight” of WhiteKnightTwo. The video is here:
At first I was impressed that Wired got its hands on what presumably was video from the April 20 test flight that included a tail scrape during a tough-and-go, followed by some touchy statements from Scaled Composites in response to the reporting of the event. But as I was watching it I noticed that some of the footage looked very familiar:
This was footage released in late March by Virgin. At first I thought Wired had simply rehashed the video released in late March, but when you compare the two it’s clear that the Wired video has different clips and angles, so that’s not the case. Yet it looked familiar, and some of it seemed odd: why would someone say that this was “the day we’ve been working for” just before the fourth test flight?
As it turns out, Virgin’s Will Whitehorn played this exact same video back in February at the FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Washington. It’s based, not surprisingly, on the first test flight back in December, as the second took place just the day before Whitehorn spoke. Here’s a (low-quality, apologies) clip of that speech where Whitehorn showed the video:
One other bit of news: the Wired blog post adds that WK2 “will make its public debut next month at a fly-over during the groundbreaking for Virgin Galactic’s Spaceport America terminal.” Spaceport America officials haven’t set a date for that groundbreaking other than to say that it would be in early summer, consistent with that statement. Since there’s no runway at Spaceport America yet, the aircraft would have to take off and land somewhere else, unless it can do a non-stop roundtrip from Mojave.