Feeds

Virgin space mothership test details posted online

Bottom-smack brouhaha shakes 'black' mindset?

Top three mobile application threats

The firm building jet "motherships" and suborbital rocketplanes for Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic space joyride operation has begun posting flight-test results online. The move is perhaps an acknowledgement that the SpaceShipTwo programme and Virgin Galactic can only survive by maintaining high public visibility and engagement.

Those interested in the programme of Virgin Galactic flight tests by the famous company Scaled Composites can now look here to see the latest results. Curiously, there's no way to navigate there from the rest of the company site yet - perhaps an oversight.

Scaled had a similar policy of published (if rather bare-bones) logs with the original SpaceShipOne/WhiteKnight effort, which saw SpaceShipOne soar to victory in the Ansari X-Prize contest of 2004. The vast public interest generated at the time was surely a major factor in Richard Branson's subsequent decision to start Virgin Galactic, and to have the space-tourism company's fleet of WhiteKnightTwo "mothership" carrier jets and SpaceShipTwo passenger rocketplanes made by Scaled.

But thus far, there's been no such openness with the flight tests of the new aircraft, though the original WhiteKnightTwo piggyback jet has been flying for some time - dubbed VMS (Virgin Mothership) Eve, after Branson's actual mum.

The secrecy has led to extensive speculation as to test progress, particularly after a recent incident in which VMS Eve suffered a tail strike during a "touch and go" rolling landing and immediate takeoff manoeuvre. It was thought that perhaps the big plane was suffering from inadequate rudder authority. In fact, Scaled subsequently stated that the swerve and resulting bump had resulted from engine throttles having been asymmetrically set previous to takeoff power being selected.

That brouhaha seems to have led to a policy change at Scaled in which limited amounts of information will be released in order to slake the public thirst for knowledge and prevent speculation, while keeping the programme's profile as high as it needs to be.

You can see why Scaled tends to default to secretiveness, however. While the firm is best known for SpaceShipOne and now Virgin Galactic, it has actually done most of its work on military projects of one sort or another. Since being purchased by US military megacorp Northrop Grumman in 2007, it's theorised that Scaled may well be at work on a "black" (totally secret) fourth-gen stealth bomber of some sort.

It probably requires a certain amount of mental adjustment to work both on programmes which must remain completely blacked-out, and others which can only survive in the bright glare of publicity. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

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'
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
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
R.I.P. LADEE: Probe smashes into lunar surface at 3,600mph
Swan dive signs off successful science mission
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
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.
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.
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.