A Private Tour of Virgin Galactic and Spaceship 2
Jason Daniel Shaw
VIRGIN GALACTIC | MOJAVE SPACESPORT
I had the opportunity with Marco recently to fly up to Mojave Spaceport for a private tour of Virgin Galactic’s facility, White Knight 2 and Spaceship 2 by one of the test pilots. It was an incredible experience! Unfortunately, we were not able to take photos inside the facility but I did capture some GoPro Fusion 360 photos along the way and from outside the hangar.
If you are not familiar with Virgin Galactic, it is one of Richard Branson’s companies that is looking to become the first commercial space tour on the planet (or off). White Knight 2 and the original Spaceship 2 were both built by Scaled Composites – a Northrop Grumman company, which happens to be where I work. My first project at Northrop Grumman was constructing the company’s museum at our aerospace sector headquarters in Redondo Beach. Part of that museum focused on the Virgin Galactic project. A tragedy threatened the program a few years ago but they have rebounded and are more determined to accomplish their goals. Production has since fully transferred over to the Spaceship Company – also a Richard Branson company. Arriving in Mojave, we were given permission to taxi right up to the Virgin Galactic hangar door with the Cessna!
Walking into the hangar where White Knight 2 and Spaceship 2 (VSS Unity) sits provided a look into what our future may look like. I liken it to haven the chance to see the Wright Flyer in 1903. Space tourism is not something that we have really wrapped our head around fully and is an exciting step for mankind. Not just for Instagrammers to take their account to the next level but for technology advancement and pushing boundaries. Spaceship 2 was going through an overhaul so the inside was very sparse but amazing to see how both simple and complex the vehicle was in design. It was interesting to learn that both the spaceship and the mothership had the same flight controls so that pilots could transition seamlessly between the two vehicles. The flight simulator in the hangar is also setup such that with a couple hours reconfiguring, it could represent either.
They were currently in production of two additional spaceships and getting ready to relocate to their permanent base in New Mexico. I feel very honored to have an up close and personal look at the future or space travel and can’t wait until the Virgin Galactic maiden commercial flight. Sorry for the lack of photos on this blog post but make sure to follow along here and over on my Instagram to keep up with future adventures.