CompositesWorld

DEC 2018

CompositesWorld

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DECEMBER 2018 32 CompositesWorld INSIDE MANUFACTURING » It all started with the Ansari XPrize. Wealthy space enthusiasts Anousheh and Amir Ansari oered $10 million to the rst private enterprise, worldwide, "to build a reliable, reusable, privately nanced, manned spaceship capable of carrying three people to 100 km [62 miles] above the Earth's surface twice within two weeks," says the Ansari XPrize Web site. †e award, given in ‡ˆˆ‰, went to Mojave Aerospace Ventures (MAV, Mojave, CA, US), owned and funded by late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, for spaceship technology engineered by Burt Rutan and his Scaled Composites team at the Mojave Space- port. †e spaceship that reached the goal was an all-carbon ber composite structure named SpaceShipOne. In one of the many departures from the ordinary in this venture, the space- ship did not launch from Earth's surface, but was delivered part of the way to its destination by the (also) carbon ber composite WhiteKnight. Dubbed the mothership, WhiteKnight was designed to replace the rst stage of a traditional rocket used to launch a craft from Earth's surface. When WhiteKnight reached its target altitude, SpaceShipOne was released from its mothership and a dedicated rocket on SpaceShipOne provided the second-stage boost, driving the spaceship up to its suborbital goal. Suborbital goal for tourists Rutan and Richard Branson of Virgin Group (London, UK) had an ambitious new idea for the WhiteKnight and its SpaceShip: tourism. Together they set up Virgin Galactic space Ÿight company in Las Cruces, NM, US, and in 2005 announced plans to form †e Spaceship Co. (TSC) in Mojave to produce the spacecraft that would lift passengers to suborbital space (~50 miles/80 km) for a heavenly view of Earth and a few minutes of weightlessness. Because the sight of Earth from space has been described as giving the viewer a "feeling of unity," TSC decided to name its next space- ship model, SpaceShipTwo (SS2), after that concept: Unity. Rolled out in February ‡ˆ¨©, SS was oªcially named VSS Unity by the late Professor Stephen Hawking — famed scientist and Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University (Cambridge, UK) — who spoke at the ceremony: "A man with the vision and persistence to open up space Ÿight for ordinary, Earth- bound citizens, Richard Branson made it his mission to make space Ÿight a reality for those intrepid enough to venture beyond the boundaries of the Earth's atmosphere. I would be very proud to Ÿy on this spaceship. Space exploration has already been a great Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo will carry its SpaceShipTwo to launch position, then rocket passengers to suborbital space for a heavenly view of Earth. Leveraging composites for space tourism FIG. 1 WhiteKnightTwo ready for flight The two 78-ft-long fuselages of WK2 are identical in structure: a nose cone, cabin structure, and boom section that extends to the 26-ft-high horizontal tail. The right-side cabin is pressurized for crew: two pilots and an optional seat for a flight test engineer. The left-side cabin is unpressurized and contains ballast to keep the vehicle's center of gravity along the centerline. Source | TSC By Donna Dawson / Senior Writer Emeritus

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