WhiteKnightTwo

WhiteKnightTwo

Utilizing an open-architecture design and powered by four Pratt & Whitney turbofans, WhiteKnightTwo provides the high-altitude launch platform for SpaceShipTwo to achieve sub-orbital flight.

Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer

Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer

This record-breaking, single-place, aviation marvel features two external booms flanking a center pod where the pilot sits, on top of which is the aircraft's powerhouse, a Williams turbofan jet engine.

SpaceShipOne

SpaceShipOne

SpaceShipOne, the first private manned spacecraft, is a three-place, high-altitude research rocket, designed for sub-orbital flights at an altitude of 100 km and powered by a unique hybrid rocket motor.

White Knight

White Knight

Initially developed to provide a launch platform at 50,000 ft for SpaceShipOne, White Knight is a three-place, high-altitude, flexible and capable research aircraft.

White Knight Flight Tests

The following list includes summaries of the flight test activity of the White Knight research aircraft. The White Knight is equipped with the same system components as SpaceShipOne (cabin, ECS, pneumatic, avionics, trim servos, electrical, backup air data, test data, video & TM). Thus, the flight test program of the White Knight includes many tests that focus on SpaceShipOne systems qualification and maturity. Flight crews include program pilots Doug Shane, Mike Melvill, Brian Binnie and Pete Siebold, Cory Bird (White Knight project engineer) and Rick Aldrich (crew chief). This list will be updated monthly.
Flight: 59
Date: 14 Jun 04
Flight Time 1.0 hr
Pilot: Siebold
CoPilot: Melvill

Objectives:
Avionics checkout flight, pilot proficiency and landing practice.

Flight: 58
Date: 14 Jun 04
Flight Time 0.7 hr
Pilot: Melvill
CoPilot: Siebold

Objectives:
Avionics checkout flight, pilot proficiency and landing practice.

Flight: 57
Date: 14 Jun 04
Flight Time: 1.7 hr
Pilot: Binnie
CoPilot: Stinemetze

Objectives:
Flight 15P rehearsal, avionics checkout, pilot proficiency and landing practice.

Flight: 55
Date: 06 May 04
Flight Time: 0.4 hr
Pilot: Melvill
CoPilot: Aldrich

Objectives:
Flight 14P rehearsal, avionics checkout, pilot proficiency and landing practice.

Flight: 54
Date: 06 May 04
Flight Time: 1.6 hr
Pilot: Binnie
CoPilot: Stinemetze

Objectives:
Flight 14P rehearsal, avionics checkout, pilot proficiency and landing practice.

Flight: 52
Date: 05 Apr 04
Flight Time: 2.0 hr
Pilot: Siebold
CoPilot: Karkow

Objectives:
Avionics checkout flight, pilot proficiency and landing practice.

Flight: 51
Date: 31 Mar 04
Flight Time: 2.0 hr
Pilot: Binnie
CoPilot: Melvill

Objectives:
SpaceShipOne Flight 13P launch rehearsal, avionics checkout and landing practice.

Flight: 50
Date: 30 Mar 04
Flight Time: 2.0 hr
Pilot: Melvill
CoPilot: Binnie

Objectives:
Avionics software evaluation, launch release rehearsal and landing pattern practice.

Flight: 48
Date: 08 Mar 04
Flight Time: 1.4 hr
Pilot: Binnie
CoPilot: Stinemetze

Objectives:
SpaceShipOne flight 12G launch release rehearsal and avionics software evaluation.

Flight: 47
Date: 04 Mar 04
Flight Time: 1.3 hr
Pilot: Binnie
CoPilot: Bird

Objectives:
SpaceShipOne flight 12G launch release rehearsal and avionics software evaluation.

Flight: 46
Date: 18 Feb 04
Flight Time: 0.7 hr
Pilot: Binnie
CoPilot: Melvill

Objectives:
Pilot proficiency, new software build checkout and landing practice.

Flight: 45
Date: 18 Feb 04
Flight Time: 1.6 hr
Pilot: Siebold
CoPilot: Binnie

Objectives:
Pilot proficiency, new software build checkout and landing practice.

Flight: 44
Date: 18 Feb 04
Flight Time: 1.7 hr
Pilot: Melvill
CoPilot: Binnie

Objectives:
Pilot proficiency, new software build checkout and landing practice.

Flight: 39
Date: 05 Nov 03
Flight Time: 1.5 hr
Pilot: Siebold
CoPilot: Binnie

Objectives:
Avionics upgrade evaluation and landing pattern practice.

Results:
Satisfactory GPS-aided INS stability and position keeping through a normal launch and glide flight profile.

Flight: 36
Date: 22 Sep 03
Flight Time: 1.7 hr
Pilot: Binnie
CoPilot: Stinemetze

Objectives:
Avionics upgrade evaluation.

Results:
Satisfactory GPS-aided INS stability and position keeping through a normal launch and glide flight profile.

Flight: 35
Date: 19 Sep 03
Flight Time: 2.1 hr
Pilot: Siebold
CoPilot: Binnie
FTE: Nichols

Objectives:
SpaceShipOne approach and landing profile review.

Results:
Evaluated a variety of different profiles to assess ease of set-up, forgiveness to off normal starts and pilot situation awareness during the approach.

Flight: 34
Date: 18 Sep 03
Flight Time: 2.7 hr
Pilot: Binnie
CoPilot: Melvill
FTE: Alsbury

Objectives:
SpaceShipOne approach and landing profile review.

Results:
Evaluated a variety of different profiles to assess ease of set-up, forgiveness to off normal starts and pilot SA during the approach.

Flight: 33
Date: 11 Sep 03
Flight Time: 2.7 hr
Pilot: Melvill
CoPilot: Binnie
FTE: Tighe

Objectives:
SpaceShipOne approach and landing profile review.

Results:
Evaluated a variety of different profiles to assess ease of set-up, forgiveness to off normal starts and pilot SA during the approach.

Flight: 28
Date: 11 Jul 03
Flight Time: 0.5 hr
Pilot: Siebold
CoPilot: Binnie
FTE: Losey

Objectives:
Pilot proficiency. First flight for SpaceShipOne crew chief.

Results:
Made several practice SpaceShipOne approaches using various configurations and runways. Good exposure for SS1 crewchief Steve Losey on cockpit workload / crew coordination / cabin environment and human factors for Tier-1 mission.

Flight: 27
Date: 11 Jul 03
Flight Time: 0.7 hr
Pilot: Binnie
CoPilot: Siebold
FTE: Stinemetze

Objectives:
Pilot proficiency. First flight for SpaceShipOne lead engineer.

Results:
Made several simulated captive carry low sink rate landings as well as practice SpaceshipOne approaches to various runways. Good exposure for Matt Stinemetze on cockpit workload / crew coordination / cabin environment and human factors for Tier-1 mission

Flight: 26
Date: 11 Jul 03
Flight Time: 2.0 hr
Pilot: Melvill
CoPilot: Binnie
FTE: Rutan

Objectives:
First glide flight profile rehearsal / two ship checklist flow / airspace coordination / Command and Control responsibilities and handoffs. First flight for Burt in the White Knight.

Results:
Exercised all current checklists and SpaceShipOne first flight test cards. Simulated emergencies handled successfully. Good exposure for Burt on cockpit workload / crew coordination / cabin environment and human factors for Tier-1 mission. Flew eleven practice SpaceShipOne approaches from above high key, three with simulated failed avionics and some with other emergencies and runway changes. All were successful.

Flight: 25
Date: 03 Jul 03
Flight Time: 2.2 hr
Pilot: Binnie
CoPilot: Siebold

Objectives:
First glide flight profile rehearsal / two ship checklist flow / airspace coordination / Command and Control responsibilities and handoffs.

Results:
Good exercise of all involved parties and agencies including the Edwards Air Force Base, Joshua Control and Scaled Composites, Utility Mobile ground station.

Flight: 23
Date: 02 May 03
Flight Time: 2.3 hr
Pilot: Melvill
CoPilot: Aldrich

Objectives:
Engine performance at altitude. New pilot masks and ECS airflow routing. Regulated bleed air control of the aft cabin temperature (to test the capability to heat SpaceShipOne's nitrous oxidizer. Appraisal of new traffic alert system.

Results:
Engines showed much improved performance up to 50,000 feet. ECS changes confirmed to assure clear windows for landing. Successful bleed air heating test: good control and sufficient energy for SS1 propellant heating.

Flight: 22
Date: 26 Apr 03
Flight Time: 0.3 hr
Pilot: Melvill
CoPilot: Binnie

Objectives:
Airshow for the 'friends and family' unveiling.

Results:
Good show for 1000+ guests. Broadcast media included CNN, ABC, PBS, Tech TV, Discovery & National Geographic TV.

Flight: 21
Date: 18 Apr 03
Flight Time: 0.2 hr
Pilot: Melvill
CoPilot: Binnie

Objectives:
Formal media rollout

Results:
Good show for the VIP/media audience

Flight: 20
Date: 15 Apr 03
Flight Time: 0.7 hr
Pilot: Melvill
CoPilot: Binnie

Objectives:
Repeat airshow maneuver practice

Results:
Minor tweaks to refine the airshow demonstration maneuvers.

Flight: 19
Date: 15 Apr 03
Flight Time: 1.2 hr
Pilot: Melvill
CoPilot: Binnie

Objectives:
Airshow maneuver practice. First flight with Spaceship launch system installed.

Results:
Satisfactory airshow results for various wind conditions. Launch system satisfactory.

Flight: 18
Date: 07 Mar 03
Flight Time: 3.3 hr
Pilot: Melvill
CoPilot: Bird

Objectives:
Revised ECS configuration evaluation. Multiple SFO (simulated flame out) approaches to assess updated flight director steering cues.

Results:
New ECS configuration results encouraging. Engines returned to depot facility for second overhaul repair.

Flight: 17
Date: 24 Feb 03
Flight Time: 2.8 hr
Pilot: Binnie
CoPilot: Melvill

Objectives:
Evaluate performance of updated engines. Measure effect of new canted wingtips. Test new landing gear doors and upgraded INS hardware.

Results:
New and different engine irregularities at highest altitudes. Further mods are needed for adequate ECS humidity control. Canted wingtips solved the dihedral effect problem. No flying qualities issues remain.

Flight: 16
Date: 12 Nov 02
Flight Time: 2.0 hr
Pilot: Binnie
CoPilot: Siebold

Objectives:
Continued engine, ECS and avionics evaluation. Simulated wheel brake failure landing rollout.

Results:
Conclusion: aircraft can be landed at MHV if a wheel brake fails. More engine irregularities at high altitude. Engines removed and sent to test cell for fuel control calibration and adjustments.

Flight: 15
Date: 06 Nov 02
Flight Time: 2.4 hr
Pilot: Siebold
CoPilot: Binnie

Objectives:
Continued engine, ECS and avionics evaluation. High-rate nose wheel steering assessment.

Results:
Difficulty maintaining afterburner on left engine near 50,000 feet. Improved ECS configuration showed improved resistance to fogging. Nose wheel steering gearing change about the same.

Flight: 14
Date: 24 Oct 02
Flight Time: 0.3 hr
Pilot: Siebold
CoPilot: Shane

Objectives:
FAA-monitored flight for pilot "Type Rating."

Results:
Rating issued

Flight: 13
Date: 24 Oct 02
Flight Time: 0.3 hr
Pilot: Binnie
CoPilot: Siebold

Objectives:
FAA-monitored flight for pilot "Type Rating."

Results:
Rating issued

Flight: 12
Date: 24 Oct 02
Flight Time: 0.3 hr
Pilot: Melvill
CoPilot: Shane

Objectives:
FAA-monitored flight for pilot "Type Rating."

Results:
Rating issued

Flight: 11
Date: 24 Oct 02
Flight Time: 0.3 hr
Pilot: Shane
CoPilot: Melvill

Objectives:
FAA-monitored flight for pilot "Type Rating."

Results:
Rating issued

Flight: 10
Date: 17 Oct 02
Flight Time: 1.1 hr
Pilot: Siebold
CoPilot: Binnie

Objectives:
SpaceShipOne boost profile and steering capture practice. Simulated SS1 glide approaches.

Results:
SS1 simulation good up to at least ~ 70 degree flight path angle.

Flight: 9
Date: 17 Oct 02
Flight Time: 2.2 hr
Pilot: Binnie
CoPilot: Siebold

Objectives:
Boost phase pilot training. Formation flying and air-to-air photography with the Proteus aircraft.

Results:
Adequate visibility and satisfactory flying qualities for formation flying. A photo from this flight later appeared on the cover of Aviation Week (21 Apr 03 issue).

Flight: 8
Date: 16 Oct 02
Flight Time: 1.6 hr
Pilot: Melvill
CoPilot: Binnie

Objectives:
Envelope expansion above 50,000 feet and 0.55M. Avionics software upgrade. Practice SpaceShipOne glide approaches.

Results:
Climbed to 53,000 feet and 0.53M in Military power. Cleared the full required envelope needed for SpaceShipOne launch operations. Flying qualities at highest altitude are satisfactory and will not require dampers. Window fogging not an issue until the cabin was depressurized at 10,000 feet.

Flight: 7
Date: 10 Oct 02
Flight Time: 3.0 hr
Pilot: Shane
CoPilot: Binnie

Objectives:
Completion of Flight 6 objectives. Airspeed and altitude envelope expansion, 45,000 feet / 160 knots / 0.5M

Results:
No structural damping issues found. Engine operation satisfactory. Some window fogging on descent. Some degradation of pneumatic actuators due to cold soaking. Insufficient dihedral effect at high speed/high altitude.

Flight: 6
Date: 09 Oct 02
Flight Time: 0.9 hr
Pilot: Shane CoPilot: Binnie

Objectives:
Evaluate rudder mass balance modifications. Effectiveness of engine bleed air heating of the fuselage aft of the cabin (first test of SpaceShipOne Nitrous heating system).

Results:
Rudder vibration problem resolved. Flight cut short due to suspected over-temp of aft cabin bulkhead from engine bleed air.

Flight: 5
Date: 06 Sep 02
Flight Time: 2.0 hr
Pilot: Binnie
CoPilot: Shane

Objectives:
New pilot qual eval. Envelope expansion out to 45,000 feet and 160 knots / 0.5M. Practice SpaceShipOne glide approaches. Effectiveness of new tail vortex generators and clipped outboard speed brakes.

Results:
The new VGs eliminated the high-altitude rudder dead-band. Encountered undamped rudder vibration at 25,000 feet and 160 knots during flutter envelope expansion. Engine flameout at 45,000 feet. Un-safe main gear indication for landing (a microswitch adjustment). Clipped otbd speed brake showed no change.

Flight: 4
Date: 27 Aug 02
Flight Time: 2.5 hr
Pilot: Siebold
CoPilot: Shane

Objectives:
New pilot qual eval. Envelope expansion out to 35,000 feet and 150 knots / 0.4M and 3 G's. Engine relight performance. Avionics software upgrade.

Results:
Experienced a rudder dead-band (poor centering) at the higher altitudes. Dihedral effect is neutral at higher speeds. Window fogging on descent. Numerous flight director attitude display resets.

Flight: 3
Date: 19 Aug 02
Flight Time: 2.8 hr
Pilot: Melvill
CoPilot: Shane

Objectives:
New pilot qual eval. Envelope expansion out to 25,000 feet and 150 knots. First flight with the cabin pressurized for environmental control system tests.

Results:
Satisfactory handling and performance. Buffet barriers determined for inboard and outboard speed brakes. Significant window fogging experienced after cold soak at altitude.

Flight: 2
Date: 05 Aug 02
Flight Time: 1.5 hr
Pilot: Shane
CoPilot: Siebold

Objectives:
First flight test card repeat. Flying qualities assessment and basic performance evaluation. Avionics and pneumatic systems evaluation. Cabin un-pressurized.

Results:
Envelope expansion to 15,000 feet and 140 knots. Overall satisfactory stability, good control harmony and impressive performance. Heavy airframe buffet at high speeds with both sets of speed brakes deployed. "Best airplane the company has ever built."

Flight: 1
Date: 01 Aug 02
Flight Time: 0.2 hr
Pilot: Shane
CoPilot: Siebold

Objectives:
First flight. Handling qualities assessment and basic performance evaluation. Systems evaluation. Cabin un-pressurized.

Results:
Un-commanded hammering auxiliary spoiler deployments after takeoff. Flight aborted to downwind for an uneventful landing. No apparent flying qualities issues noted. Auxiliary spoilers were disabled for future flights.

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