PICTURE: How much change will Galactic’s mothership see?

by | Apr 22, 2009 | Seradata News | 3 comments

wk2takeoff W445.jpg
credit Flight / caption: WK2 fourth flight indicated further directional stability issues

So now during a straight forward touch and go manoeuvre Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnight Two (WK2) prototype Virgin Mothership Eve struck its tail as the pilot fought to control a roll left due to a 15kt cross wind, which normally should not be a problem

Its further evidence that Scaled Composites, for all its expertise, did not realise the degree that a two fuselage aircraft with a Boeing 757 scale wing would require larger vertical fins

With vortex generators added and a second horn and an increase in the size of those horns the aircraft still appears to be suffering from directional instabilty. The horns, for those of you who don’t know, are the tab like squares that appear to extend from the rudder into the fin and are designed to jut out in the direction opposite to the movement of the rudder, inducing forces to stop any natural tendencies for the rudder to swing back to neutral – its normal position

The big question is, can this WK2 prototype carry SpaceShipTwo (SS2)? A provocative question but while landing in a 15kt crosswind presents such a challenge the carriage of SS2 is not going to occur any time soon

See more pictures and read more detail in this story

click through to access a larger version of the photo of the moment of the tail strike

WK2 tail strike compress.jpg

click on this image of the moment of the tail strike to see a larger version of it in the same browser window. Note the dust kicked up by the port boom’s tail fin’s impact

This large picture, which Flight has paid for, is offered to readers for personal use such as computer screen backgrounds please do not use for commercial websites

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