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Virgin Galactic to build new motherships

July 7, 2022

Virgin Galactic has signed a contract with a subsidiary of Boeing to build two new ‘mothership’ aircraft which will be used as launch platforms for its future spaceplanes and launching of satellites.

Virgin has ordered the aircraft from Aurora Flight Sciences. They will take the place of its current WhiteKnightTwo (also known as Virgin Mothership Eve) that to date has been carrying its suborbital flights.

In a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the agreement contract explains that the order is based on a combination of fixed-price as well as time/materials elements with additional incentives to be paid to Aurora if it completes the planes on time, under budget or with improved performance elements. The first aircraft is due to be ready to fly in 2025.

Virgin’s WhiteKnightTwo entered service in 2008 and is currently undergoing upgrades and modifications at its Mojave Desert facility. The aircraft is due to resume commercial services in Q1/2023.

“Our next-generation motherships are integral to scaling our operations. They will be faster to produce, easier to maintain and will allow us to fly substantially more missions each year,” commented Michael Colglazier, CEO at Virgin Galactic.

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