WhiteKnightTwo, SpaceShipOne's carrier ship, makes first successful flight

Monday, December 22, 2008

WhiteKnightTwo took to the air for the first time Sunday morning, Dec. 21, 2008 following several weeks of taxi tests. The big, twin fuselage airplane took off at 8:17 a.m. PST and landed an hour later to the applause of spectators watching at the Mojave Air and Spaceport. Photo by Bill Deaver - Mojave Desert News

More good news from the private space industry, where things really seem to be progressing now. They even decided to get a good dig in at the auto and banking industries while they were at it:
Designed by Scaled Composites, the huge and unique WhiteKnightTwo mothership rolled down the runway and muscled itself into the air using four Pratt and Whitney PW308A turbofan engines. The WhiteKnightTwo flew for about an hour, departing the runway at roughly 8:17 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, safely touching down at the Mojave Air and Space Port at approximately 9:17 a.m. PST.

"It's a big day," said Stuart Witt, general manager of Mojave Air and Space Port. "I think it's a real reflective time. When everybody's looking for a bailout, there are still people that are doing something for a much larger reason," he told SPACE.com.
One other interesting part about why so much innovation has been able to go on in the private sector:
The hour-long test flight of WhiteKnightTwo made use of a minimum flight test crew.

"And here we are on a Sunday morning...in a place out here in the middle of nowhere and really neat stuff is happening. It just looked beautiful," Witt said. "What brings people to this desolate landscape on a Sunday morning in December is more about what forced them here. Innovation by the private sector is a void being filled because NASA deserted 90 percent of the sandbox and left it open for us to fill."

Make sure to read the comments below too. Some people are quite excited about all the recent progress in the private industry, as am I. It's also especially exciting because soon-to-be Commerce Secretary Bill Richardson has such an intimate knowledge of the industry, so the private aerospace industry's growth is not going to go unrecognized.


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