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PW308A-powered WK2 launch aircraft for first commercial space flight debuts

Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) is celebrating the official rollout in Mojave, California of the PW308A-powered WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) launch aircraft for the world's first commercial passenger suborbital spaceship. P&WC is a United Technologies (NYSE: UTX) company.

"We are proud to be powering this important component of The Spaceship Company's (TSC) commercial spaceship program just one year after our engines were selected for the mother ship," said John Saabas, Executive Vice President, P&WC. "The development program has been going very well and it's fantastic to see the WhiteKnightTwo make its debut appearance."

The WK2 carrier aircraft, powered by four PW308A engines, is being designed by Scaled Composites to release SpaceShipTwo (SS2), the first commercial passenger suborbital spacecraft, at an altitude of about 50,000 ft. TSC is jointly owned by Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites.

"The rollout of WhiteKnightTwo is a great milestone that paves the way for a new era in space travel," said Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group of Companies and co-founder of The Spaceship Company. "It will have the best fuel efficiency of any aircraft ever built thanks to its state-of-the-art and dependable PW308A engines. With collaboration from companies such as Pratt & Whitney Canada, we are developing the world's most advanced payload carrier and pushing the boundaries of innovation to make public space travel a reality."

"The WhiteKnightTwo program will give P&WC an invaluable opportunity to collect high-altitude performance data for the PW308A turbofan," added Saabas.

The fully-certified PW308A engine has a demonstrated capability to fly at an altitude up to 60,000 feet. Rated at 6,900 lbs. normal takeoff thrust and equipped with a full-authority digital engine control (FADEC), the PW308A provides a combination of cruise thrust, fuel consumption and power-to-weight ratio considered best in its class. It currently powers Raytheon's new Hawker 4000 super mid-size business jet.

Press release issued by Pratt & Whitney Canada on July 28, 2008

 

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Pratt & Whitney Canada Turboshaft Engines, Turboprop Engines, Auxiliary Power Units, Turbofan Engines, Compressors, Engine Parts

 

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