Virgin's SpaceShipTwo Gets Green Light for Powered Tests
The SpaceShipTwo commercial spaceship and its launch vehicle, WhiteKnightTwo, shown here in glide test flights, have received FAA permission for experimental, rocket-powered, suborbital launch tests. (Source: Virgin Galactic)
Beth, it's unlikely that Scaled Composites is still at the stage of testing aerodynamics, especially since there were predecessor prototypes for both the spaceship, SpaceShipOne, and the launch vehicle, WhiteKnightOne. As naperlou says, these new tests are to ensure it can fly under power.
You may be correct about the CFD processing going on Beth, but these guys may also be at the stage where they just need to light off rockets and see if they can avoid blowing up.
It is good to see the commercial space business making progress. With SpaceX and Virgin Galactic making progress we can finally get the government out of this. I worked for many years in the business for a contractor. We would be much further along if privatization had come along much earlier.
Another important step in space exploration and in cultivating a commercial market. Is the testing of the aerodynamics of the SpaceShipTwo primarily done in simulation? I would imagine there is some heavy duty CFD processing going on.