March 31, 2015

Introducing our Spaceship Propulsion Team

A few weeks back, we introduced you to the second SpaceShipTwo and the men and women hard at work building our new vehicle. Today, we’d like to introduce you to our spaceship propulsion team.

This team, as the name suggests, is responsible for the system that will power the spaceship and its occupants safely into space. Building the world’s largest hybrid rocket motor for human spaceflight has been our biggest challenge. We have learnt from and responded to this challenge and have assembled a team with significant depth and breadth of hybrid propulsion knowledge.

Over the years, our team and contractors have conducted hundreds of tests, including more than 75 tests of full scale motors. This has included tests of different designs and fuel types within the same basic rocket motor architecture. We have diligently looked at each idea with an unwavering attitude of ‘may the best idea win.’  In our quest for continued improvement, we don’t expect testing to stop even after we start commercial service—just as car and airplane engines are still improved every year even after a century of experience, we expect that rocket motors can and will be made better over time.

Today, our in-house propulsion team has taken the lead on all hybrid propulsion work and is now fully responsible for designing, testing, and manufacturing SpaceShipTwo’s rocket motors. They have been testing regularly in Mojave for many months now, making great improvements and achieving positive results. We are using the additional time available in the overall program schedule to continue work on improving the motor. So expect to see more ground firing tests and periodic news on developments as we move forward.

We are very proud of our spaceship propulsion group and how much they have accomplished. Take a look, and get to know our team.