Will Evaluate Biofuels To Reduce Emissions For SpaceShipTwo
Pratt & Whitney Canada's PW308 turbofan engine has been
selected by The Spaceship Company (TSC) -- a jointly-owned Virgin
Galactic and Scaled Composites company -- to power the White Knight
II (WK2) launch aircraft for the world's first commercial passenger
suborbital spaceship SpaceShipTwo (SS2). Virgin Galactic is the
launch customer for the SS2 system, having ordered five SS2
spacecraft with options for a further seven-plus WK2 carrier
"We are delighted to welcome Pratt & Whitney Canada on board
the White Knight II program," said Sir Richard Branson, founder of
the Virgin Group of Companies and co-founder of The Spaceship
Company. "With P&WC's excellent reputation and our mutual
desire for innovation, it became clear that its PW308 engine is the
best and most reliable solution available today to help make our
aerospace adventure a true success."
"We are excited to be a part of this visionary commercial
spaceship program that will open up new opportunities for people to
fly into space," said Alain M. Bellemare, President, P&WC and
Executive Vice President, Pratt & Whitney Group Strategy &
Development. "Our global leadership is built on innovation and we
look forward to helping shape the future of suborbital spaceflight
with The Spaceship Company."
Equipped with its PW308 engines, the WK2 launch aircraft now
under development by Scaled Composites will take off like an
airplane with the manned SS2 attached underneath. It will launch
SS2 into suborbital space from about 50,000 feet. The first flight
of White Knight II is planned for 2008.
"We have been impressed with P&WC's enthusiasm for this
groundbreaking project," said Burt Rutan, co-founder of TSC and CEO
of Scaled Composites LLC, designers of SS1 and SS2. "The PW308 is a
great engine for our new launch aircraft."
Rated at 6,900 pounds of
normal takeoff thrust and equipped with full-authority, digital
electronic controls (FADEC), the PW308 engine provides a
combination of cruise thrust, fuel consumption and power-to-weight
ratio considered best in its class.
P&WC will also team up with TSC and Virgin Fuels to evaluate
the use of advanced biofuels in White Knight II, that could reduce
engine emissions even further and make aircraft more
Virgin Galactic touts its space launch system as already the
most environmentally friendly developed to date for the purpose of
human spaceflight, science or payload. If the evaluation is
successful, the use of biofuels in White Knight II could further
reduce the overall carbon footprint of a flight into space by up to
50 percent, notes the enginemaker.
"The fully certified PW308 meets all thrust and schedule
requirements of White Knight II," added Bellemare. "This is yet
another demonstration of our technology leadership."