PICTURES: More WhiteKnight Two rudder changes detailed

by | Aug 6, 2009 | Seradata News | 2 comments

wk2 vortex generators b.jpg
credit Flight / caption: This is how WK2’s rudder looked earlier this year

In its 23 April statement Scaled Composites said of WK2’s development “We concluded the rudder aerodynamic modification tasks following flight 3”, which maybe true, and while talking to reporters at Airventure Oshkosh air show on Monday 27 July Scaled’s founder and chief engineer Burt Rutan discussed this but there have been further changes to the mothership’s tail fin assembly, as can be seen in the pictures in this blog post

The above picture is how Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnight Two’s rudder was earlier this year (and this rudder configuration was the same immediately after the June Mojave-Phoenix Mesa Gateway-Las Cruces, New Mexico flights) and below is a cropped picture taken by Hyperbola of the mothership while she sat in Aeroshell square at the Airventure Oshkosh air show on 29 July 2009

side to rudder compressed.JPG
credit Flight / caption: the whole bottom of the rudder has been modified with mystery cables to boot 

As can be seen it is quite a change. What happened to the aerodynamic weight that Rutan said they added to the rudder bottom to help it cope with the landing gear wake for that aerodynamic balancing?

wk2 cables closeup.JPG

credit Flight / caption: they don’t look like composite cables

While that mass might still be inside the bottom of that rudder it is quite clear that cables have been added and fed into the fuselage boom

It looks to Hyperbola that the cables are part of a stability augmentation system or autopilot, which is quite a develpoment as Rutan went to some length to explain why WK2 did not have boosted controls in his 23 April statement

It is also quite clear that the cables are normal stainless steel but Rutan has previously stated that this aircraft would have composite control cables

It is an interesting change and worthy of further investigation by Hyperbola, especially as Scaled made it very clear in that 23 April statement that they did not use augmentation or booster controls

Hopefully this blog will have more infromation on this and other changes in the future

Meanwhile Hyperbola awaits the inevitable email from Virgin Galactic saying that this blog’s speculation is not welcome 😉

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