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VMS Eve Maiden Flight.jpg
VMS Eve's maiden flight
Role Spaceship carrier / launcher
National origin United States
Manufacturer Scaled Composites
Designer Robert Morgan, James Tighe[1][2]
First flight 21 December 2008
Primary user Virgin Galactic
Number built 1
Developed from White Knight One
Type WhiteKnightTwo
Construction number 001
Registration N348MS

VMS Eve (Tail number: N348MS[3]) is a carrier mothership for Virgin Galactic and launch platform for Scaled Composites SpaceShipTwo-based Virgin SpaceShips.

WhiteKnightTwo at its rollout and christening ceremony, July 28, 2008

VMS Eve is the first, and so far only, White Knight Two, built by Scaled Composites for Virgin Galactic. The "VMS" prefix stands for "Virgin Mothership".[4]

Public launch[edit]

VMS Eve's nose art

The aircraft was named after Evette Branson, the mother of Richard Branson, Chairman of the Virgin Group. The jet plane has nose art of a blonde woman holding the Virgin Galactic corporate flag.[5] The image is based on how Evette Branson looked when she was younger and is called Galactic Girl.[6] The aircraft was officially launched on July 28, 2008, in Mojave, California, the United States, at the Mojave Spaceport, home of Scaled Composites. On December 12, 2008, the aircraft performed first taxi tests,[7] and a week later the maiden flight.[8] Eve will be used in the Virgin Galactic testflight program, preceding entry into commercial usage.[9]

It is the largest all composite aircraft ever constructed and has the longest single-piece composite aircraft part: a 140 ft (43 m) long wingspan.[10] Burt Rutan has dismissed fears that pressurization cycles might induce fatigue failure in the composite structure.[11] Richard Branson has also announced that it will be highly fuel efficient.[12]

Flight test program[edit]

The initial flight tests were planned to begin in early September 2008[13][14][15] but they were delayed.[16] On 12 December 2008 the initial low speed taxi test was carried out at Mojave[17] followed by a high speed taxi on 16 December.[18] By September 2009 the flight envelope was extended to 50000 feet.[19] Testing has continued, with some delays and setbacks, and as of 19 September 2014 the total flight time for WhiteKnightTwo is 333.96 hours.


  1. ^ US patent D612791, Morgan, Robert & James Tighe, "U.S. Design Patent 612,719 for the ornamental design for an aircraft", issued 2010-03-30 
  2. ^ "WK2 Rollout Audio Clips (parts 4 & 6)". Movaje Skies. 2008-07-30. Retrieved 2009-03-10. 
  3. ^ "FAA N Number Registration for "Eve"". Retrieved 2008-07-28. 
  4. ^ CNet News, Virgin Galactic's faces of Eve, July 28, 2008 1:08 PM PDT, Candace Lombardi
  5. ^ ABC News, Virgin Galactic Announces New Space Aircraft, July 28, 2008, Lauren Sher
  6. ^ Chicago Tribune, Branson reveals mother ship[permanent dead link], July 29, 2008
  7. ^ AVweb, WhiteKnight2 Completes Taxi Test, December 16, 2008
  8. ^ The Space Fellowship, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Mothership Makes Maiden Flight, December 21, 2008
  9. ^ The Register, Branson unveils Virgin Galactic mothership, Tuesday 29th July 2008 10:32 UTC, Scott Snowden
  10. ^ eFluxMedia, WhiteKnightTwo Offers Space As The Ultimate Tourist Destination Archived 2008-08-02 at the Wayback Machine., 12:08, July 29, 2008, Dee Chisamera
  11. ^ Rob Coppinger (29 July 2008)"Rutan: Fatigue 'is not an issue' for WhiteKnightTwo", Flightglobal
  12. ^ National Geographic, Virgin Galactic Unveils WhiteKnightTwo Space Plane, July 28, 2008, Ker Than
  13. ^ David, Leonard (June 6, 2008). "Virgin Galactic Spaceline: Mega-Mothership Set for Rollout Debut". Space.com. Retrieved 2008-06-10. 
  14. ^ "2008 AirVenture Oshkosh schedule". Airventure.org. Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  15. ^ [1] Archived October 23, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ Coppinger, Rob (30 September 2008), "Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo first flight delayed to year's end", Flight International, London, retrieved 2008-10-07 
  17. ^ Coppinger, Rob (13 Dec 2008). "World Exclusive Video: SpaceShipTwo mothership runway trial". London. Retrieved 2008-12-16. Source: Flight International 
  18. ^ Coppinger, Rob (17 Dec 2008). "Exclusive Video: WhiteKnightTwo makes high speed taxi, deploys spoilers". London. Retrieved 2008-12-23. Source: Flight International 
  19. ^ Coppinger, Rob (30 April 2009), Scaled plans 50,000ft WhiteKnight Two flight by September, London, Source: Flight International 

External links[edit]