Tag Archives: Mojave Air and Space Port

Exclusive: Check Out These Incredible Photos Taken Last Week of the Massive Stratolaunch Space Plane

Photographer Chris McGreevy Captures Gold in Photos at Mojave Air & Space Port.

Aviation spotter and photographer Christopher McGreevy has been shooting photos of unique and interesting aircraft, “Since I was a kiddo” he told TheAviationist.com last week in an exclusive interview over Facebook messenger.

But what he captured on Friday, August 10, 2018 outside the Mojave Air & Space Port is truly remarkable.

Shooting with his Canon EOS 7D Mark II and a Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary Lens from outside the fence at the Mojave Air & Space Port (also known as the Civilian Aerospace Test Center) located in Mojave, California, McGreevy shot these photos around 2:00 PM local time on Friday.

Detail of three of the six engines on Stratolaunch along with its control surfaces. (All photos: Christopher McGreevy)

McGreevy’s photos show the enormous Stratolaunch aircraft built by Stratolaunch Systems of Seattle, Washington. The Stratolaunch, when it flies some time later this year or in early 2019, will become the largest aircraft to ever fly as measured by wingspan. Its wings measure a titanic 385 feet (117 meters). The gigantic aircraft weighs a staggering 1,200,000 pounds at take-off with its payload. That is a total of 600 tons. The Stratolaunch is built to air launch spaceplanes like Orbital ATK’s Pegasus XL, the Dream Chaser and Black Ice experimental spacecraft prior to their orbital flights.

These shots are incredibly unique since Chris McGreevy told TheAviationist.com that there was, “Not a soul out there.” He was the only photographer in the area when the aircraft was outside on this day. The gigantic aircraft is most frequently housed in a massive hangar at the Mojave Air & Space Port.

Stratolaunch uses a unique round entry door as shown in this photo.

McGreevy is a frequent visitor to the facility. “Mojave is usually my own little playground unless a known Spaceship 2 launch is happening. Nobody really shoots out there because it’s a pretty slow airport. I go pretty often to see the Orbital L-1011 and 747 retirement flights to the boneyard.”

“I have a few spots there that I like to shoot from,” McGreevy told TheAviationist.com in a late-night interview on Friday. “I use my 4X4 truck to drive around the filed I the dirt, [it] offers some different views of the field.”

The Stratolaunch hangar is of equally massive proportions to the aircraft itself.

The McGreevy photos from Friday offer a unique perspective on the massive size and unique design of this flying leviathan. Because they were shot from a distance but with good composition and cropping, these photos offer an accurate sense of the enormous size of the Stratolaunch aircraft. McGreevy shows fascinating details such as close-ups of the aircraft’s six engines and the round crew entry hatch. A large towing tug and maintenance scaffolding under the aircraft also lend an accurate sense of scale and size to the photos. There also seems to be some engine mount maintenance going on since one of the photos shows some aircraft surface missing from the upper portion of the engine mounts at the wing.

Photographer Christopher McGreevy shot this spectacular wide shot of the Stratolaunch giving a graphic sense of its massive size.

One particularly interesting shot from the McGreevy collection is the photo of the L-39 Albatross single engine trainer jet with civilian registration N139WS taxiing in front of the Stratolaunch. This L-39 is registered to Ozark Management Inc, of Jefferson City, Missouri, a privately held aviation firm with only about 5-6 employees according to open source information and is operated by the National Test Pilot School L-39C. It’s not clear if the aircrew of the L-39 is related to the Stratolaunch company or not. The aircraft adds a great sense of scale to the backdrop of the Stratolaunch, since the photo shows just 1/4 of the monster plane.

This Aero L-39 jet trainer in the foreground lends some sense of size and scale to the Stratolaunch.

Following the high-speed taxi tests of the Stratolaunch earlier this year in late February things have seemingly been quiet about the Stratolaunch but it is likely these sensational photos from Christopher McGreevy may reignite the excitement and conversation about this truly historic and remarkable aviation project.

Thanks for Photographer and Aviation Enthusiast Christopher McGreevy for his generous use of his excellent photos for TheAviationist.com and to the Facebook group “Palmdale AF Plant 42 (PMD) and BJ’s Corner”.

Photographer Chris McGreevy who shot the remarkable Stratolaunch photos.

A320 flying beside Virgin Galactic’s White Knight Two mothership carrying SpaceShipTwo

An unbelievable footage, filmed in 2011, shows a really unusual formation, including an Airbus 320 and White Knight Two carrying the SpaceShipTwo, disintegrated over Mojave desert few days ago.

On Apr. 6, 2011, Virgin America A320 named “My Other Ride is a Spaceship” flew beside Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo carrying SpaceShipTwo over San Francisco to celebrate Virgin America’s new terminal at SFO airport.

The following footage was filmed from aboard the Airbus, as the “mothership” and an accompanying Beechcraft Baron 58 chase plane rejoined on the liner’s left wing, in a rendez-vous reminding that of the receivers on an aerial refueler, to take some cool images of the rather unusual formation.

With a service ceiling of 60,000 feet, the jet-powered cargo aircraft used to lift the SpaceShipTwo spacecraft to a release altitude of 50,000 feet, features two fuselage, one of those is an exact replica of that of SpaceShipTwo to allow tourist training.

On Oct. 31, during a first test over Mojave desert, SS2 disintegrated in flight, seconds after release from White Knight Two. Although the cause of the incident is still being investigated, NTSB team revealed that an uncommanded feather deployment occurred 9 sec. after ignition of the hybrid rocket, possibly overstressing the airframe until it collapsed.

H/T Stefano Perer/Flapa for the heads-up


Developing Story: Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship Two Crashes In Mojave Desert during test flight

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo crashed in Mojave Desert after experiencing an in-flight “anomaly” earlier today.

On Oct. 31, during the first test of a new hybrid rocket motor at Mojave, California, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo (SS2) crashed causing, based on current news reports, 1 dead and 1 seriously injured pilot.


Today’s flight, the first since January, was aimed at testing a new fuel mixture for the SS2’s hybrid rocket engine. The suborbital, air-launched spaceplane designed for space tourism at 250K USD a seat, spent more than three hours on the Mojave runway before the go ahead for launch for given at 09.19 AM Local Time.

About 45 minutes later, the aircraft was released by WhiteKnightTwo mothership, at an altitude of 50,000 feet. Witnesses reported the aircraft suffered a failure after separation from the mothership. It then blew up and separated in several parts.


Awesome video shows Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo third supersonic flight

On Jan. 10, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, completed its third rocket-powered test flight.

During the flight, the space plane “broke” the sound barrier and reached an altitude of 71,000 feet – the highest in a spate of recent test-runs.

The new video recorded during the last test flights lets you watch the launch from the “mothership” and the subsequent acceleration and climb from several points of view and to understand how the entire procedure develops.

Along with commercial space shuttles, Richard Branson is also working on a vehicle, dubbed LauncherOne, that could go around the world at 80,000 mph in 80 minutes and could be used to put a satellite into space at a cost under 10 million USD.

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