Peter Diamandis FAITH-based Confidence in Virgin Galactic Aimed at Preserving Legacy

Results are the best they can be? Seriously?

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?  

We’re only a few days into this investigation, the NTSB has months of work ahead of it to determine root cause, most of the data remain to be analyzed, and Diamandis has already concluded that everything is going to be just fine.

How does he know the engine worked “perfectly”? Has he seen the data yet? It only fired for 9 or 10 seconds before the ship broke up. That wasn’t even a full burn. It’s well short of full duration firing needed to get SpaceShipTwo into space (or however high it can get). And that was only the first in-flight test of the new engine. They’ll need to do a lot of these flight tests before knowing how well the engine performs.

The design requires no changes? How does he conclude that? The flight test was never completed. There’s no data available publicly on how well the ship performed with the changes in the wings.

Based on what?

It startles me that the man behind the Ansari X Prize seems to have so little understanding of the industry. He doesn’t seem to grasp the complexity of the technology involved. Or what is involved in properly flight testing it. Determining the risk of a flying vehicle is based on many flights and mountains of data,

Diamandis seems to have not done any examination of the adequacy of Virgin Galactic’s flight test plan. Or the quality of its safety culture. Or the reliability of its technology.

Diamandis said it himself during the 10th anniversary celebration of the Ansari X Prize four weeks ago. He thanked Branson for coming along to commercialize the technology developed for the prize. Other than that, the whole competition would have been an historical curiosity without much lasting impact on space development.

That could still happen if Virgin Galactic fails. Imagine a scenario where that happens, and then XCOR — the little company in the hangar next door that never entered the Ansari X Prize, and didn’t need it or Diamandis for inspiration — comes along and succeeds. How would the prize look then?

This might not be so bad if Diamandis had actually bought his own ticket on Virgin Galactic. But, he didn’t. About five years ago, the X Prize Foundation had a Radical Benefit for Humanity — a gala, black-tie fundraiser. One of the prizes auctioned off was a trip to space with a celebrity. Which celebrity? Peter Diamandis. The winner bid enough to pay for his ticket and Diamandis’ ticket to space.

Back when Scaled Composites killed three engineers in a nitrous oxide cold flow test, Diamandis was telling everyone about how it was an industrial accident that had little to do with the safety of spaceflight. This was very far from the truth, but the media — most of whom knew little about the technology — seemed to swallow the explanation hook, line and sinker.

I’m hoping the media are a bit more skeptical this time around.