When world-renowned entrepreneur and designer Burt Rutan founded Scaled Composites in 1982, he created an environment where the best ideas thrive from collaborative efforts of small, close-knit project teams. Today Scaled Composites has a broad range of aerodynamic analysis and design capabilities. Scaled’s experience rests in air vehicle design, tooling and manufacturing, specialty composite structure design, analysis and fabrication, and developmental flight tests of air and space vehicles.
To be a competitive force in the ongoing race to create the world’s first commercial space line Virgin Galactic, a company of the Virgin Group, envisioned the opportunity to build the world’s first sub-orbital spacecrafts, providing the private sector access to space. Knowing that they needed the best avionic manufacturer to create this innovative spacecraft, Virgin Galactic partnered with Scaled Composites to create these historic spaceships that use an environmentally responsive launch system.
Given this incredible opportunity, Scaled Composites visualized the possibilities of commercial spaceflight and began the burgeoning process of ultimately designing the future for space travel. Scaled had the capable knowledge and experience behind building the actual spacecraft, but needed a displays system throughout the craft’s instrumentation that met the same caliber of their quality designs. When evaluating software to display the quality of avionics in these spacecrafts, Scaled perused the market for a single display development toolkit that could support prototyping, training, and embedding capabilities. DiSTI’s GL Studio, an award-winning suite of tools that enable developers to build high fidelity graphics and fully interactive controls, was ultimately selected in 2006.
The VMS Eve Aircraft and the VSS Enterprise Spaceship were designed with the general public in mind, giving the ability of ease in flight. The VSS Enterprise Spaceship is the first of five suborbital spacecrafts being constructed for commercial use. The VMS Eve Aircraft acts as the mothership and launch platform for the VSS Enterprise, which boosts the spaceship into orbit at an altitude of over 50,000 feet. The VMS Aircraft can also operate as a zero-g aircraft for passenger training or microgravity science flights. It can handle missions in high-altitude testing or be used to launch essential payloads other than SpaceShipTwo aircrafts.
Scaled Composite’s engineers implemented the intuitive GL Studio software tool to rapidly prototype the complex avionics displays and seamlessly integrate them into the training simulator for extended human factors testing. After its success, the same displays were generated into the VMS Eve Aircraft and the VSS Enterprise Spaceship, supporting the prototyping, testing, training, and embedded models for each vehicle.
With the GL Studio-based displays integrated into the spacecraft, the VMS Eve has performed over 40 successful flights since December 21, 2008. GL Studio was used for the avionics interface development and its 3D capabilities made it possible to develop displays for the carrier, spacecraft and ground equipment.
The VMS Eve carried the VSS Enterprise on its inaugural flight on March 22, 2010. The inaugural solo flight of the spaceship was October 10, 2010. Before, a person had to have years of intensive training to enter space, but soon anyone can have access to have a suborbital journey.