Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. reaches another major build milestone.
The world’s first commercial spaceline – Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. has today revealed another major milestone in the build of its next spaceship – the ability to bear its own weight in a stage of its assembly termed Weight on Wheels.
This means that 80% of the vehicle’s major structural assembly is complete. This latest Weight on Wheels development has been achieved considerably faster than it did for the fleet’s first SpaceShipTwo – VSS Unity – which is currently in flight-test. This milestone has been reached through various experience curve benefits, such as an evolution to a more modular-based assembly process.
Now that the spaceship is now bearing its own weight, the teams are beginning to work to connect the modules’ integrated systems, including the flight control systems from fuselage to tail booms.
Additionally, this latest development means the team will now be able to check and confirm the vehicle’s weight and allows better and greater efficiencies for the engineers as they complete the build.
The spaceship will be positioned in the hanger for the start of the integrated vehicle ground testing which verifies the integrity of all its systems. Following this, the spaceship will be moved from Mojave to Spaceport America in New Mexico, where it will then start its flight test program.
The Virgin Galactic spaceship fleet itself is also beginning to take shape with a third spaceship. This build is also under construction in Mojave and is around 50% structurally complete. Soon, the vehicle will achieve its next major milestone, with completion of its wing and tail boom structure. In total, Virgin Galactic plans to build five spaceships – plus a second mothership to meet the demand for human space flight. This is beyond the 600 Future Astronauts from 60 Countries who have already purchased tickets to fly.
George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic commented, “Reaching the Weight on Wheels milestone, considerably faster than it was achieved for VSS Unity, is a huge accomplishment and is testament to the growing expertise of the teams and the unique capabilities of our company. We now have two spaceships that are structurally complete with a third not too far behind. These spaceships will very soon be completing regular trips to space and back, providing thousands of private astronauts with a truly transformative experience.’’
For more information, please visit www.virgingalactic.com.