Q: I’m sure anytime you talk about what you’re doing, people ask you when the rides will become available. What are you able to say about how the time frame is developing? What’s the latest?
A: It’s funny, Alan, you’re the first person to ask me that question … in the last 10 minutes. As you know, we do not have a public schedule because we want our flight testing to be focused on building a safe vehicle. But as I think others have expressed, and certainly Richard has expressed, our hope is to get to space this coming year. That’s obviously dependent on flight test. We’ll go into commercial operation as soon as we can, and as soon as we’re able to work with the FAA to get a commercial license. So far, things are progressing well. We’re very excited about the glide test resultsÂ â€” we’ve justÂ had another fantastic flight. The vehicle is flying very well. So … so far, so good.
Yep, safety.This thing’s going to safer than a couch in a safe at Fort Knox before Richard Branson and his family climb aboard with designer Burt Rutan in tow.
Gov. Susana Martinez sacked the entire New Mexico Spaceport Authority Board of Directors on Friday. Two days later, the Albuquerque Journal published an investigative report exposing construction delays, poor planning, and weak managerial oversight on the $209-million desert spaceport outside of Truth or Consequences.
Below is Virgin Galactic’s official press release announcing Will Whitehorn’s departure from the company. With traveling and the holidays, I overlooked it until now.
VIRGIN GALACTIC PRESS RELEASE Dec. 23, 2010
Will Whitehorn, President of Virgin Galactic since the formation of the company in 2004, is to retire from that role in January 2011. George Whitesides, who was appointed as the first full time CEO in May 2010, assumes the title of President and CEO.
NASA’s Office of Chief Technologist has published detailed information about suborbital vehicles that will be available beginning in 2011 for researchers to conduct microgravity experiments. The vehicles are being built by Armadillo Aerospace, Blue Origin, Masten Space Systems, Virgin Galactic, and XCOR.
Today we will look at Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo.Â The eight-seat suborbital vehicle built by Scaled Composites is currently being tested in Mojave, Calif.
The Guardian reports that Virgin Galactic’s Will Whitehorn was “hopping mad” over a recent study indicating that SpaceShipTwo might not be as clean as the company claims:
“The research was fundamentally wrong,” he says. “If you had a Virgin Galactic program running for ten years, if you assumed that we weren’t using biobutinol (which we will) we’re talking about less environmental impact over ten years than 1.5 shuttle launches.”
Private SpaceShipTwo Heads for New Territory Space.com
Whitehorn said more SpaceShipTwo glide tests are in the offing. Those tests will include a high-altitude drop of the craft that will allow the pilots to feather and unfeather the SpaceShipTwo’s novel, care-free tail section used during the fall back into Earth’s atmosphere. This configuration allows a “hands-off” re-entry to Earth and greatly reduces aerodynamic and thermal loads on the craft.
These tests will be followed by attachment of the spaceplane’s hybrid rocket motor.
“There will be very short firings of the motor, and then we’ll extend those burns and we’ll start climbing into space,” Whitehorn told SPACE.com. “I think we can pretty safely say now that we’ll be in space in 2011. It’s taken a little bit longer. But the point is that it has been done safely.”
The Spaceship Company (TSC) broke ground today for its new Final Assembly, Integration and Test Hangar today at Mojave Air & Space Port, with the presence of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (CA-22) , Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (CA-46) and Rep. Jean Fuller.
TSC is a new aerospace production company, founded by Sir Richard Bransonâ€™s Virgin Group and Scaled Composites, a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman Corporation. TSCâ€™s mission is to build the fleet of SpaceShipTwos and WhiteKnightTwos for its customer Virgin Galactic.
Spacecraft factory to break ground in Mojave Los Angeles Times
A production facility that would build the world’s first fleet of commercial spaceships is set to begin construction Tuesday at the Mojave Air and Space Port.
The 68,000-square-foot facility, one of the first aircraft assembly plants to be built in the region in decades, will be home to the Spaceship Co., or TSC — a joint venture owned by Mojave-based Scaled Composites and British billionaire Richard Bransonâ€™s Virgin Galactic, a space tourism company.
TSC hopes to complete the complex by September 2011. It expects to build three White Knight aircraft, which resemble massive flying catamarans, and five smaller SpaceShipTwo rocket planes.
Virgin Galactic President George Whitesides sees some problems with a recent study about soot emissions from commercial space planes impacting the upper atmosphere and affecting the global climate:
Whitesides had two major criticisms of the study. â€œOne of the things thatâ€™s a little disappointing is that the authors didnâ€™t include a range of uncertainty in their model,â€ he said. â€œWhatâ€™s the confidence around that number? I donâ€™t think we know that.â€
Program: NASA Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) Company: Sierra Nevada Corporation Project: Dream Chaser shuttle Award: $20 million
Third Quarter ProgressReport (July 1-Sept. 30, 2010)
The Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program continued to make excellent progress per plan during the 3rd quarter of 2010. The CCDev team conducted several internal reviews in July to ensure a proper technical plan and schedule was in place to conduct the Propulsion Module Test Firings in September. Several technical meetings were held in the month including a Reaction Control System Technical Interchange Meeting, mid-term reviews for GNC/Avionics, and a Primary Structure Design and Test Plan review. Additional management staff was added as well as experienced engineers in support of the Structures and Systems Engineering Integrated Product Teams.