Virgin Galactic has revealed that it has reached a major milestone in the construction of a second SpaceShipTwo vehicle.
In a January 8 press release, Virgin Galactic announced that the landing gear of the company’s second SpaceShipTwo vehicle was now supporting the full weight of the vehicle. This stage of the construction process is referred to by Virgin Galactic as “weight on wheels” and is seen as an important milestone.
“Reaching the Weight on Wheels milestone considerably faster than was achieved for VSS Unity is a huge accomplishment and is a testament to the growing expertise and capabilities of the company,” said Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides. “These spaceships are destined to provide thousands of private astronauts with a truly transformative experience by performing regular trips to space.”
The next stage of the construction process will see teams begin to integrate the various systems of the vehicle’s major components together. This process will include integrating the flight control systems from the fuselage to the tail booms. Once the systems of the various major components are integrated, the vehicle will begin ground testing, the final step before its flight test program.
In addition to work on the second SpaceShipTwo progressing rapidly, Virgin Galactic has revealed that work on the structural and systems part fabrication for a third vehicle is approximately 50% complete.
Currently, Virgin Galactic has a backlog of over 600 customers who have purchased tickets aboard SpaceShipTwo flights. Tickets aboard these flights reportedly cost upwards of $250,000 per person. However, as Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo vehicles begin commercial flights and the potential operational demand for additional flights above and beyond those already sold becomes clearer, the cost per ticket may be effected.