Virgin spaceship to use open source?
Virgin Galactic yesterday revealed the design of SpaceShipTwo, which would in the future offer commercial passengers an opportunity to experience space flight. Speaking outside the American Museum of Natural History in New York Virgin Gactic president Will Whitehorn said that this would be part of a much longer development plan which would have “an open architecture like Linux to allow other people to develop new vehicles and revolutionize new industrial uses of space,” reported ars technica.
The space launch system, described as “environmentally benign”, comprises of a carrier, or mothership, and a smaller craft for carrying passengers into space. The design builds on the technology of the earlier SpaceShipOne, which made its third flight into space in October 2004 to win the $10 million Ansari X Prize.
The Wight Knight Two (WK2) mothership, the largest all-carbon composite aircraft, is nearing completion and should begin test flights in the northern hemisphere summer. The WK2 will be responsible for launching the SpaceShipTwo and its eight astronauts into sub-orbital space flight.
As part of the open architecture, the WK2 will be able to launch other payloads into space as well.
Ars technica reported further that third parties interested in WhiteKnightTwo technology could work with the designers, Scaled Composites “to use WhiteKnightTwo’s wing design in their projects, or to develop add-ons – such as payload or passenger carrying-modules – to be used directly with the WhiteKnightTwo craft itself”.
“The designs of both the mothership and the new spaceship are absolutely beautiful and surpass any expectations for the future of commercial spaceflight that we had when first registereing the name Virgin Galactic in 1999,” said Sir Richard Branson, adding that he was excited about the prospect of developing a bio-fuel solution for the launch system.