DEC 2018


Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 34 of 51

NEWS 33 unier — we seem able to cooperate between nations in space in a way we can only envy on Earth. We are entering a new space age and I hope this will help to create a new unity." As of July ••••, about ••• people have signed up and paid up to •-•,••• each for that opportunity. Faithful to the initial concept, the current WhiteKnightTwo (WK, named Eve) will deliver SS/ Unity and its passengers to an altitude of about „ miles/•- km (Fig. •). (‡e current WK and SS are named Eve and Unity, respectively; future ships will be named when they are rolled out. See the Names table in Fig. •, p. ‹Œ.) At the apogee, WK pilots will release SS and SS's pilots will ignite its hybrid rocket to thrust it and its passengers toward an unequaled tourist experience: A minute of intense thrust at Mach ‹, then weightlessness, while watching Earth as it turns in their view. SS will then return to Earth, o"ering the experience of the return of gravity (g-force) and high heat on re-entry to the Earth's atmosphere. All aboard will be protected from high temperatures as the spaceship decelerates through the atmosphere by proven thermal protection, originally developed by NASA for the Space Shuttle. Composites enable space tourism "We probably couldn't do this mission if we were not building these vehicles out of all carbon ber construction," TSC Presi- dent Enrico Palermo states. "We are leveraging the true benet of composites in these spacecraft, designing and building structures that are e›cient, and as a result lighter and therefore need less propulsion to soar into space." TSC builds on a deep foundation of composites knowledge and experience from Rutan, who began conceiving, designing and building composite airplanes in •„Œž, and founded Scaled Composites in •„••. Acquired by Northrop Grumman in •••Œ, Scaled has been and is renowned for experimental composite aircraft designs and construction, plus the success of its space- ship approach for the Ansari XPrize. With its access to this legacy, TSC is nding new techniques to successfully apply Rutan's basic manufacturing processes of hand layup, vacuum bag and out-of-autoclave (OOA) cure, while advancing its own methods for its specic spacecraft challenges. Alec Subero, TSC's chief engineer for the next two spaceship models, SS- and SS-, interprets TSC's own paradigm: "What's unique, what allows us to actually meet our space tourism goal, is that we use the processes in a di"erent way. We have ne-tuned procedures based on the legacy from our prede- cessor technology that allow us to build the spaceships by less costly and faster methods, that allow us to be more nimble in our approach to changes, compared to a larger company that might be slower and more reluctant to react. For example, our combina- tion of adhesives and OOA prepreg processing opens up ¤exibility in cure cycles, allowing us to make design changes quickly while minimizing disruption in the assembly ¤ow of the spaceship. "We also employ very talented technicians who are very skillful with their hands," he adds. Laser projection and automated ply- cutting technologies are used to reduce the manual labor content and to maintain accuracy of the hand-build approach and "we are Composites for space tourism FIG. 2 All-composite spacecraft VMS Eve (WK2) and VSS Unity (SS2) all-composite structures preparing for flight. WK2 has a 140-ft wing span, providing space for carrying a SS2 to launch position. SS2 moves into position to lock into WK2 release mechanism (top photo); WK2 and SS2 together in flight (bottom). Source | TSC FIG. 3 Composite parts for engine installation Installation of Pratt & Whitney engine into composite cowlings and high-tempera- ture composite inlet duct and exhaust nozzle. Source | TSC

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of CompositesWorld - DEC 2018