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In 2004, the Advanced Composites Group Limited (Heanor, UK), part of the Composites Division of Umeco plc, supplied materials for use on SpaceShipOne and its carrier plane White Knight.
Both of these were built by Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites company, the winner of the Ansari X prize for being the first private company to put a manned craft into space twice within a 2 week period. The SpaceShipOne vehicle and the White Knight carrier plane were both built from ACG’s LTM45EL prepregs at the Scaled Composites Mojave California facility.
Now, with the launch of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group’s new commercial spaceline, Virgin Galactic, commercial spaceflight will take a further step forward by offering the first commercial suborbital passenger space service. Virgin Galactic will operate five spaceship systems manufactured by The Spaceship Company, a joint venture between Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites with options for more to follow.
The SpaceShipTwo vehicle and the White Knight 2 carrier plane are to be built from a new generation of out of autoclave prepregs developed by the Advanced Composites Group. ACG say that the MTM45-1 prepreg resin system selected for the new vehicles represents an advance over the older LTM systems in terms of performance and toughness.
Jon Mabbitt, Managing Director of Advanced Composites Group, said: “We are delighted that our technology will be used again to help Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic reach their goals of commercial spaceflight. At ACG we continuously strive to achieve advances in materials that help to make these feats possible.”
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