HOME  |  NEWS  |  BLOGS  |  MESSAGES  |  FEATURES  |  VIDEOS  |  WEBINARS  |  INDUSTRIES  |  FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
  |  REGISTER  |  LOGIN  |  HELP
Blogs
Engineering Materials
Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip Two Relies on Carbon Composites
3/27/2012

The VSS Enterprise, the first of five SpaceShip Two commercial spacecraft, all with all-carbon-composite structures, returns to Earth in its first feather, or unpowered, flight on May 4, 2011.   (Source: Clay Center Observatory)
The VSS Enterprise, the first of five SpaceShip Two commercial spacecraft, all with all-carbon-composite structures, returns to Earth in its first feather, or unpowered, flight on May 4, 2011.
(Source: Clay Center Observatory)

Return to Article

View Comments: Oldest First|Newest First|Threaded View
Page 1/2  >  >>
Beth Stackpole
User Rank
Blogger
SpaceShip Two Takes Flight
Beth Stackpole   3/27/2012 6:20:31 AM
NO RATINGS
Is this a prototype of the space vehicle Richard Branson is behind, which would take average citizens (albeit those with big fat pocketbooks) into space flight? Any sense of how different the all-composite approach is on this craft compared to what Boeing accomplished with the Dreamliner 787?

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: SpaceShip Two Takes Flight
Rob Spiegel   3/27/2012 10:47:07 AM
NO RATINGS
This is great. It's good to see that one crazy guy -- Richard Branson -- can take the dream of space flight and move forward on his own without a government sponsored organization. He's getting closer and closer to making this dream happen. Rock on, Richard.

TJ McDermott
User Rank
Blogger
Re: SpaceShip Two Takes Flight
TJ McDermott   3/27/2012 12:42:39 PM
NO RATINGS
Branson and Musk lead this third stage of human space exploration.  I do wish though, it had followed Clarke's timeline a bit more closely.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: SpaceShip Two Takes Flight
Ann R. Thryft   3/27/2012 12:58:48 PM
NO RATINGS

Yes, Beth, this is that spaceship. There are very few details about how composites have been used in SS2 on any of the websites I checked. However, both SS2 and WK2 are consistently described as "all-carbon- composite" which seems to mean the shell. It's also worthwhile to note that Scaled Composites, which built and tested previous-version vehicles, and did the same for the SS2 and WK2 prototypes, makes "speciality composite structures," so I'm guessing that the airframe structures are also made of composites. In other words, there are probably even more than in the 787.

Apparently, if you have enough money, as Branson does, you can fund all kinds of things.


Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: SpaceShip Two Takes Flight
Rob Spiegel   3/27/2012 1:04:11 PM
NO RATINGS
Yes, TJ, it's a shame we didn't meet Clarke's timetable. Back in 1967, Clarke's timetable actually seemed plausible. While much of the technology advancements (especially the Internet, military, and medical technology) have been impressive in the past few decades, exploration of space has been a disappointment. Perhaps it needs to be monetized to really leap forward -- in which case Branson may be on the right track.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: SpaceShip Two Takes Flight
Ann R. Thryft   3/27/2012 1:12:20 PM
NO RATINGS

I agree with Rob, Clarke's timetable made a lot of sense back in the day. I'm not surprised we didn't meet it, though, seeing as how NASA's funding for the fun stuff dried up some time ago.


Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: SpaceShip Two Takes Flight
Rob Spiegel   3/27/2012 1:16:52 PM
NO RATINGS
I agree, Ann. I think there has been a lack of clear vision for NASA. By clear, I mean a vision the voters can understand and get behind. The last clear vision was getting on the moon by the end of the 60s. That vision was tied to the fear of the USSR getting ahead of us in space. Once we landed on the moon, the vision was gone. Maybe the next vision is paid space travel, the ultimate amusement park.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: SpaceShip Two Takes Flight
Ann R. Thryft   3/27/2012 1:23:39 PM
NO RATINGS

Rob, I was thinking more about funding, but you bring up an important point: effective PR and the images it portrays. PR is often considered to be a dirty word by engineers, but that's what drives a lot of perception, in this case, by the public, aka voters. Not only did landing on the moon end one vision, or image, but the USSR's fall ended the vision of competing with the Soviets.


Charles Murray
User Rank
Blogger
Scaled Composites
Charles Murray   3/27/2012 6:38:46 PM
NO RATINGS
They couldn't ask for a better company to do the flight tests on the composites. Scaled Composites knows more about this technology than anyone -- they built the Voyager aircraft that flew around the world without refueling in 1986.

Greg M. Jung
User Rank
Platinum
Future Virgin Galactic Launches
Greg M. Jung   3/27/2012 9:46:47 PM
NO RATINGS
This article prompts me to think about the next phase of Virgin's business venture in space.    Along with future sub-orbital space science missions and orbital launches of small satellites, I've read where Virgin Galactic is also hoping to offer orbital human spaceflights as well.

Page 1/2  >  >>
Partner Zone
More Blogs from Engineering Materials
A tiny humanoid robot has safely piloted a small plane all the way from cold start to takeoff, landing and coming to a full stop on the plane's designated runway. Yes, it happened in a pilot training simulation -- but the research team isn't far away from doing it in the real world.
Some in the US have welcomed 3D printing for boosting local economies and bringing some offshored manufacturing back onshore. Meanwhile, China is wielding its power of numbers, and its very different relationships between government, education, and industry, to kickstart a homegrown industry.
You can find out practically everything you need to know about engineering plastics as alternatives to other materials at the 2014 IAPD Plastics Expo. Admission is free for engineers, designers, specifiers, and OEMs, as well as students and faculty.
IBM's "sunflower" solar concentrator converts 80% of the sun's radiation into useful energy.
Some studies say that robots take away certain jobs from humans, but give us others in return. So far that's worked in the past, but things may be changing.
Design News Webinar Series
10/7/2014 8:00 a.m. California / 11:00 a.m. New York
9/25/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
9/10/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
7/23/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
Quick Poll
The Continuing Education Center offers engineers an entirely new way to get the education they need to formulate next-generation solutions.
Oct 20 - 24, How to Design & Build an Embedded Web Server: An Embedded TCP/IP Tutorial
SEMESTERS: 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6


Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.
Next Class: 10/28-10/30 11:00 AM
Sponsored by Stratasys
Next Class: 10/28-10/30 2:00 PM
Sponsored by Gates Corporation
Learn More   |   Login   |   Archived Classes
Twitter Feed
Design News Twitter Feed
Like Us on Facebook

Sponsored Content

Technology Marketplace

Copyright © 2014 UBM Canon, A UBM company, All rights reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service