Tuesday, July 29, 2008

White Knight Two Revealed!

I’m highly skeptical of most claims- blame it on my cynical nature - but I really do think that we could be witnessing the dawning of a new age for space flight and exploration. Case and point, Virgin has actually delivered on its promises; first to get into low orbit, and now to roll out the new carrier vehicle for Virgin Galactic: a vehicle for the first private space tours. They call it White Knight Two.

Just read this from the press release:

Christened “EVE” in honor of Sir Richard’s mother, who performed the official naming ceremony, WK2 is both visually remarkable and represents ground-breaking aerospace technology. It is the world’s largest all carbon composite aircraft and many of its component parts have been built using composite materials for the very first time. At 140 ft, the wing spar is the longest single carbon composite aviation component ever manufactured.

Richard Branson (founder of Virgin Galactic) continued with some comments about the ships greater significance:

….Virgin Galactic is central to our ambition at Virgin to become the world’s leading group in the operation of energy and environmentally efficient transportation, in the air, on the ground and in space. We arrived here this morning on an aircraft operated by Virgin America, who run the most fuel efficient commercial fleet in the US, to roll out what by most definitions, is the most energy efficient aircraft in history. We are naming it EVE after my Mother, Eve Branson but also because it represents a first and a new beginning, the chance for our ever growing group of future astronauts and other scientists and payload specialists to see our world in a completely new light. I for one can’t wait!”

I for one can’t wait. For all those who felt that the end of the “space age” left a particular emptiness in the world, and those that never experienced it; thank you-Virgin-for giving us something to admire.

I also like the whimsical art on the craft:

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