The Fuselage of Virgin’s New Spaceship Gets One of Its Tanks

In the near future, possibly as soon as next year, Virgin Galactic will become the single private company in the world to own a fleet of self-propelled spaceships. And by fleet we mean two.
MOT meets fuselage in the Mojave desert 1 photo
Photo: Virgin Galactic
Presently, the company led by billionaire Richard Branson owns only one operating ship, the VSS Unity. With it, Virgin demonstrated the viability of flights to the edge of Earth's orbit, a proof that the concept of space tourism could – and should – work.

But in the hangars of the company’s Mojave desert facilities, a second spaceship is coming together. Yet unnamed, it just passed a major milestone this week, as its fuselage has been mated with the Main Oxidiser Tank (MOT).

MOT is the place where the oxidizer needed for the solid fuel to burn is stored. In the design of this particular ship, it connects the forward and aft parts.

“To ignite the rocket motor and burn the fuel an oxidizer is needed,” explained Jose Stevens, Chief Engineer, Propulsion, at The Spaceship Company.

“On Earth, most fuel burns using the plentiful supply of oxygen found in the atmosphere, but at very high altitudes and in space, the lack of oxygen means we have to bring an oxidizer along with us to allow the rocket motor fuel to burn and generate the required thrust.”

There is no time target set for the completion of the new ship, but this latest development marks an important step towards the beginning the test program.

Had not been for the tragic crash of the VSS Enterprise back in 2014, the ship now under construction would have been the third operated by Virgin.

But since it did, the current VSS Unity is the only one capable of flying people to orbit after taking off horizontally from the underbelly of a carrier plane. So far, says Virgin, 600 civilians from 60 countries have agreed to pay around $250,000 for a ride.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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