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Into the wild blue yonder

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Have you heard about Virgin Galactic’s White Knight 2? It was unveiled Monday at Scaled Composite’s Mojave complex.

I’m quite happy that I’ve got an interesting connection to it… one of my good friends from back at the University of Michigan (and the Solar Car Team) was the lead aero designer for WK2! Yes, I’m hoping to score some cool points by association here.

For background, WK2 is designed to carry a spaceship to ~50k feet in the air, and then drop it so that the spaceship can start its rocket motor and actually get into space. It’s built to carry a lot of weight, so it’s got a big wingspan. Because it’s got to drop a spaceship, it’s designed to have two fuselages. WK2 is of very advanced construction, the main structure being built completely of composites. (Strong, lightweight… you know the drill.)

The cool part is that if WK2 isn’t carrying the spaceship, it’s quite an impressive plane on its own. Imagine dropping a V12 into a Dodge Dart and you’ll have an idea of what I mean. It will be massively overpowered without a very large extra bit attached, which should make it very fun and interesting to fly!

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So well done to the entire team; I can’t wait until I have the chance to someday take a ride for myself.

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