LONGUEUIL, QUEBEC -- Pratt & Whitney Canada today joins Virgin Galactic in New York City to unveil detailed scale models of the world's first commercial passenger suborbital spacecraft, SpaceShipTwo, together with the launch aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo. Pratt & Whitney Canada's PW308 turbofan is the engine selected to power WhiteKnightTwo (WK2). Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) is a United Technologies company.
The PW308 engine was chosen for WK2 by The Spaceship Company - a jointly owned Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites company. Virgin Galactic is the launch customer for the SpaceShipTwo (SS2) system, having ordered five SS2 spacecraft with options for a further seven-plus WK2 carrier aircraft.
"We are delighted to welcome Pratt & Whitney Canada on board the WhiteKnightTwo program," says 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 part of this visionary commercial spaceship program that will open up new opportunities for people to fly into space," says Alain M. Bellemare, President, P&WC and executive vice president, P&WC strategy and 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, being developed 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 WK2 is planned for 2008.
"The fully certified PW308 meets all thrust and schedule requirements of WhiteKnightTwo," adds Bellemare. "This is yet another demonstration of Pratt & Whitney Canada's technology leadership."
Rated at 6,900 pounds of normal takeoff thrust and equipped with full-authority, digital engine control (FADEC), the PW308 engine provides a combination of cruise thrust, fuel consumption and power-to-weight ratio considered best in its class. Also, as part of P&WC's sustained efforts and commitment to lead green technology development, the company will team up with The Spaceship Company and Virgin Fuels to evaluate the use of advanced biofuels in WK2 that could reduce engine emissions even further and make aircraft more environmentally friendly.