Feeds

Branson rocket piggyback plane has control 'issue' - report

Virgin: 'What did you say about my mothership?'

Top three mobile application threats

The "mothership" intended to carry beardy biz kingpin Richard Branson's planned space tourism rocketplanes to launch altitude has hit technical problems, according to reports.

The WhiteKnightTwo on show to the public

Prone to fishtailing?

The WhiteKnightTwo high altitude jetplane, which has already carried out its first flight test, is said to suffer from rudder control issues during takeoff which make the aircraft yaw from side to side no matter what the pilot might do. The revelations come in a report by Flight International.

According to the aviation mag, the mothership's test pilot was reluctant to carry out inflight manoeuvres involving use of rudder during the plane's inaugural flight on 21 December, having struggled with yaw control during takeoff. He also questioned whether airflow over the WhiteKnightTwo's twin rudders was normal during high-speed taxiing tests on the previous day, asking chase cars to check indicating equipment fitted to the control surfaces.

Virgin Galactic, the company set up by Branson to operate the WhiteKnightTwo and its piggyback SpaceShipTwo rocketplanes, firmly denied that the programme had suffered any setback.

"There are no issues we know of at all," Will Whitehorn, president of Virgin Galactic, told Flight.

"It is beyond ridiculous. I am afraid to comment on alleged take-off cockpit dialogue during a first flight which then went to 16,000 feet and landed without a hitch."

The WhiteKnightTwo is built by Californian high-tech aviation firm Scaled Composites, which made the original Ansari X-Prize winning WhiteKnight and SpaceShipOne combo - and may nowadays be at work on a new top-secret "ultra" stealth bomber prototype for the US Air Force. Scaled declined to comment on the WhiteKnightTwo rudder story.

However, the firm did say following the 21 December test flight: "We were very pleased with the results of the flight and look forward to continued testing in the new year." ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
LOHAN and the amazing technicolor spaceplane
Our Vulture 2 livery is wrapped, and it's les noix du mutt
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
R.I.P. LADEE: Probe smashes into lunar surface at 3,600mph
Swan dive signs off successful science mission
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.