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Virgin Galactic readies tourist spaceplane

November 4, 2022

Virgin Galactic is finalising its plans for its ‘next generation’ sub-orbital, tourist spaceplane.

Virgin has signed agreements with Bell Textron and Qarbon Aerospace for its new ‘Delta Class’ spaceplane. Virgin will build the planes at a new facility in Mesa, Arizona at a rate of up to six units per year.

The company says it has been engaged in a “highly competitive” bidding process. Qarbon will produce the spaceplane’s composite and metallic structures for the fuselage and wings, while Bell will look after the control surfaces including the technology which rises the tail structure for re-entry.

The new spaceplanes will replace Virgin’s existing WhiteKnightTwo aircraft.

“The Delta class spaceships are an evolution of our distinctive flight system, designed for improved manufacturability, maintenance and flight rate capability,” said Michael Colglazier, chief executive of Virgin Galactic. “With the new contracts and the earlier one with Aurora, we now have the primary suppliers in place to propel the production of our spaceline fleet at scale,” he added.

Virgin Galactic says they will enter service as soon as late 2025.

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