Aurora Flight Sciences to build two planes for Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic has announced an agreement with Aurora Flight Sciences (a subcontractor of Boeing). It stipulates the construction of two carrier aircraft designed to launch next-generation suborbital spaceplanes. 

WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft. Source: D. Miller

To date, Virgin Galactic uses the WhiteKnightTwo (VMS Eve), built by Scaled Composites in 2008, as a carrier aircraft. It was involved in the mission that took place in the summer of 2021, during which SpaceShipTwo for the first time flew to the edge of space with a full load (two pilots and four passengers). One of its participants was the owner of Virgin Galactic, billionaire Richard Branson.

Shortly after the completion of the mission, Virgin Galactic began to repair and improve WhiteKnightTwo to increase its reliability and frequency of flights. Its return to service is scheduled for the end of 2022, when Virgin Galactic plans to conduct a test flight of the updated SpaceShipTwo.

The two carrier aircraft ordered from Aurora Flight Sciences are designed for missions using Delta’s next-generation spaceplane. According to Virgin Galactic, they will be easier to manufacture and maintain and will be able to support up to 200 missions per year. The first aircraft will be ready by 2025.

Recall that another company owned by Richard Branson, Virgin Orbit, recently carried out its first space launch.

According to

Follow us on Twitter to get the most interesting space news in time