Results: Monday we “lit the candle” for the first time. SS2 control and handling was very positive during its first supersonic, rocket-powered flight. The motor operated as designed and provided a smooth but noticeable/ significant push through the sound barrier. The boost was terminated at the intended shutdown duration of 16 seconds. Trajectory was nominal with Mike & Mark topping out at 1.22 Mach and 56,200 feet. Post shutdown glide was nominal. The vehicle and the team performed as expected – excellent! We’d like to thank our team, our many vendors, and the support of Virgin for making today a possibility. The fun has only just begun!
Largely lost among all the hoopla and excitement over SpaceShipTwo’s first powered flight, Virgin Galactic’s educational initiative, Virgin Unite, announced the release lesson plans and resources “pitched” at impressionable students ages 5-18:
Virgin Galactic and Galactic Unite announce the first of their lesson plans and resources!
These aim to engage and inspire educators and students around Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo test flight milestones. You can now download free lesson plans, activities and resources below, which are pitched at students aged 5-18. Teachers can use these to enhance technology and engineering lessons, as well as help develop aerospace career paths for students around the world. We hope this encourages many more fledgling rocket scientists out there to reach for the stars!
The material includes:
Lesson Plan #1: Paper Airplane Designs for Safe Landing
Lesson Plan #2: WhiteKnightTwo
Lesson Plan #3: The Design and Test Flight Milestones of SpaceShipTwo
Lesson Plan #4: Careers in Aerospace
Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Test Flight Lesson Plans Student Survey
Sparks, NV, April 29, 2013 (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Space Systems is proud to announce that its Hybrid Rocket Motor propelled Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo (SS2) sub-orbital vehicle on its first ever powered flight. SNC’s hybrid propulsion system is the largest hybrid ever used for space vehicle propulsion.
SNC manufactures two major subsystems on the SpaceShipTwo vehicle including the main oxidizer valve and the hybrid rocket motor, plus nitrous oxide dump system and nitrous oxide pressurization system control valves.
There is still time to sign up for the first Space Hacker Workshop for Suborbital Experiments this weekend in Mountain View, Calif. Come see how you can design a space experiment for — and even fly aboard — XCOR’s Lynx suborbital space plane. The workshop runs Saturday and Sunday.
The discounted $125 registration rate expires tonight at midnight PDT. If you show up at the door, it will cost you $150. Sign up at spacehacker.eventbrite.com.
A press release with a full description of the workshop follows after the break.
Arlington, VA., April 25, 2013 (ATK PR) − ATK (NYSE: ATK) has successfully completed its solid rocket booster Preliminary Design Review (PDR) with NASA for the new Space Launch System (SLS). The PDR milestone indicates the booster design is on track to support first flight of the SLS in 2017. The SLS vehicle will support NASA’s human spaceflight exploration to all destinations beyond low-earth orbit.
1. Monday, April 29, 2013, 2-3:30 PM PST (5-6:30 PM EST, 4-5:30 PM CST): ED WRIGHT joins us for Citizens in Space updates and info about the upcoming Space Hacker Workshop in Silicon Valley: http://spacehacker.eventbrite.com/#.
2. Tuesday, April 30, 2013 2013, 7-8:30 PM PST (10-11:30 PM EST, 9-10:30 PM CST): Retired astronaut JERRY ROSS is with us to discuss his new book, “Spacewalker.”
3. Friday, May 3: , 2013, 9:30-11 AM PST (11:30- 1 PM CST, 12:30PM-2:00 PM EST): As of press time, our guest for this program is yet to be determined but will either be DR. SARAH CRUDDAS of the UK or FRANK STRATFORD from Australia. We are awaiting final scheduling requirements. Please check the website newsletter for guest details and any program time changes for this Friday program. You can find the website newsletter at www.thespaceshow.com/newsletterfinal.htm.
4. Sunday, May 5, 2013, 12-1:30 PM PST (3-4:30 PM EST, 2-3:30 PM CST). We welcome HU DAVIS AND BILL KETCHUM to the show to discuss space policy, SSP, and much more, all from two highly regarded and well respected space veterans.
Although Virgin Galactic has promised to eventually lower prices on its suborbital space tourism flights aboard SpaceShipTwo, it looks like prices are actually going up 25 percent in the near term.
In an interview broadcast Monday night on KABC-TV 7 News Los Angeles, Branson said a seat on the suborbital space plane would now cost $250,000 — an increase of $50,000 from the price the company has been advertising for eight years.
Now, does that seem a bit counter-intuitive, wouldn’t it? Absolutely. But, this is actually a clever marketing move. How so? Now, you really didn’t think I’d tell you before the break, did you?
MOJAVE, Calif. (Virgin Galactic PR) – Today, Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s aabar Investments PJC, completed the first rocket-powered flight of its space vehicle, SpaceShipTwo (SS2). The test, conducted by teams from Scaled Composites (Scaled) and Virgin Galactic, officially marks Virgin Galactic’s entrance into the final phase of vehicle testing prior to commercial service from Spaceport America in New Mexico.
Ah, this is a bit embarrassing. It looks as if I was a bit too hard on the Mojave Air and Space Port.
The airport has set up a viewing area for the public and press who want to see the SpaceShipTwo flight scheduled for Monday morning. If you go in through the main entrance off Business Route 58 (between the Mariah Country Inn and the two aircraft), there is an electronic sign directing you down the road leading to the Virgin Galactic and Stratolaunch facilities.
I’m not entirely sure where the viewing area is located, but it is likely quite a ways from the flight line where most visitors have viewed flights in the past.
So, the airport is accommodating the press and public on its property for the flight, although it has generally failed to communicate that to those specific audiences properly. The only way you would know it is if you had driven through the airport tonight. This is an area that requires improvement for future flights.
I dropped by the Mojave Air and Space Port earlier this afternoon. WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo were sitting outside of the Scaled hangar. Nobody seemed to be around. The preparations for Monday’s flight will likely start late tonight or early tomorrow morning.
Meanwhile, we seem to know the identities of the pilots for tomorrow from a former Virgin Galactic employee who Tweeted them:
Best of Luck to pilots David Mackay WK2 @virgingalactic & Mark Stucky SS2 Scaled Composites on 1st powered flight tomorrow. Safe Landing!
Previous test flights have begun after sunrise, which is set for 6:03 a.m. PDT on Monday. They might take off earlier tomorrow; it’s difficult to say. It usually takes about an hour and 15 minutes before WhiteKnightTwo to get to 50,000 feet and release SpaceShipTwo. That might take longer because they are firing the engine for the first time.
Video Caption: In Season 6 Episode 12 of Spacevidcast Live we take a look at all the NewSpace companies located in Mojave and what they are up to! Doug Messier of ParabolicArc.com walks us through that exciting area.
In Space News we have Orbital nominally launching their Antares rocket, SpaceX Grasshopper jumps 250m and lands smoothly and the wraps come off Atlantis!
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Investigators have identified the cause of the failure of a Sea Launch Zenit launch vehicle at the end of January:
“The investigations isolated the failure to the Zenit-3SL first stage hydraulic power supply unit (BIM) used to pressurize the RD-171M main engine gimbal actuators. No additional contributors to the failure were found. The BIM failed approximately 3.9 seconds into the flight due to the abnormal performance of the pump that’s function is to pressurize the hydraulic oil supplied to the RD-171M main engine gimbal actuators. The pump failure was the result of contributing factors associated with a pump manufacturing process that proved difficult to control.”