Tag: Richard Branson
Asteroid mining company Planetary Resources sent out the following cancellation and refund message today has been sent to supporters of its ARKYD Kickstarter. The campaign raised money so people could send pictures of themselves into space that would be displayed with Earth in the background.
According to the message, Planetary Resources was only going to launch the satellite if it got other people to give them even more money to fly the mission. That funding was which was not forthcoming from the multiple billionaires that back Planetary Resources (Larry Page, Eric Schmidt and Richard Branson among them) or anyone else the company targeted for funding.
Two major flight-related anniversaries are being celebrated this week. Today marks the 89th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s historic solo flight across the Atlantic aboard the Spirit of St. Louis. Lucky Lindy took off from New York on this date and arrived in Paris some 33.5 hours later, claiming the $25,000 Orteig Prize.
Wednesday was the 20th anniversary of the launch of X Prize (later Ansari X Prize). Inspired by the Orteig Prize, it offered $10 million for the first privately build vehicle to fly to suborbital space twice within two weeks. The Ansari X Prize was won in October 2004 by a team led by Burt Rutan and Paul Allen with SpaceShipOne.
After Lindbergh’s flight, a public that had previously shunned commercial aviation embraced it with a passion. Following the Ansari X Prize, Richard Branson vowed to begin flying tourists to space aboard a successor vehicle, SpaceShipTwo, within three years. Nearly a dozen years and four deaths later, Branson has yet to fulfill this promise.
The SpaceShipTwo program has now taken longer than it took for NASA to go from President John F. Kennedy proposal to land a man on the moon to the completion of the program with the splashdown of Apollo 17. NASA launched the space shuttle Columbia exactly 20 years after the first spaceflight by Yuri Gagarin.
So, why have things taken so long? And why did one prize succeed beyond the dreams of its sponsor, while the space prize it inspired has promised so few practical results? The answer is a complex one that I addressed back in March in a story titled, “Prizes, Technology and Safety.” I’ve republished the story below with links to other posts in a series about flight safety.
Richard Branson’s Virgin Group is partnering with a start-up company called Boom on the production of a new Mach 2.2 commercial airliner. The deal will involve work by Virgin Galactic and its subsidiary, The Spaceship Company.
WACO, Texas, March 16, 2016 (L-3 PR) – L-3 and Virgin Galactic announced today that Virgin Galactic’s 747-400 aircraft, which serves as an airborne launch pad for its LauncherOne small satellite launch service, has arrived at L-3’s Platform Integration facilities and is entering into the next phase of its modification process.
Part 5 of 6
By Douglas Messier
With the recent roll out of VSS Unity, Virgin Galactic marked a symbolic milestone in its recovery from the October 2014 accident that destroyed the first SpaceShipTwo and killed pilot Mike Alsbury.
Two questions loomed large over the celebrity-studded event. When will it fly? And how safe will it be when it does?
Company officials gave no timeline on the first question. Their answers about SpaceShipTwo’s safety differed significantly from previous claims they made over the last 11.5 years.
Part 3 of 6
by Douglas Messier
At 10:22 p.m. on May 21, 1927, Charles Lindbergh brought the Spirit of St. Louis to a safe landing at Le Bourget Aerodrome in Paris. He had just completed the first non-stop New York to Paris airplane flight, a 33.5-hour journey during which he had covered 3,600 statute miles (5,800 km). As soon as the plane stopped, Lindbergh was surrounded by thousands of people who had gathered to welcome him. The exhausted pilot had been awake for 55 hours.
Part 2 of 6
“I question whether our insatiable appetite for total safety is serving the needs of the exploring human inside us.”
– Stu Witt, former CEO & General Manager, Mojave Air & Space Port
By Douglas Messier
After he won the $10 million Ansari X Prize with SpaceShipOne in October 2004, Scaled Composites Founder Burt Rutan had two goals for the SpaceShipTwo suborbital tourism vehicle he was building for Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.
He vowed the vehicle would be at least 100 times safer than any human spacecraft that had ever flow. And the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would certify the spaceship in a manner similar to way the agency certifies aircraft.
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Tauri Group PR) – The year 2015 was a record-setting year for start-up space ventures with investment and debt financing of $2.7 billion (excluding debt financing, $2.3 billion). Nearly twice as much venture capital ($1.8 billion) was invested in space in 2015 than in the prior 15 years, combined. More than 50 venture capital firms invested in space deals in 2015, the most in any year during the 15-year study period (2000-2015).
Professor Stephen Hawking
VSS Unity Roll Out
Mojave Air & Space Port
19 February 2016
I have always dreamt of space flight. But for so many years, I thought it was just that – a dream. Confined to Earth and in a wheelchair, how could I experience the majesty of space except through imagination and my work in theoretical physics. I never thought I would have the opportunity to see our beautiful planet from space or gaze outward into the infinity beyond. This was the domain of astronauts, the lucky few who get to experience the wonder and thrill of space flight.
Video Caption: Richard Branson unveils his latest gleaming Virgin Galactic passenger spaceship, over a year after a major mishap caused its sister ship to crash. Rough Cut – subtitled (no reporter narration).
MOJAVE, Calif., February 19, 2016 (Virgin Galactic PR) – Virgin Galactic, the privately-funded space company owned by Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s Aabar Investments PJS, today unveiled its newly completed SpaceShipTwo. The rollout ceremony was attended by Sir Richard Branson and his family, Virgin Galactic’s Future Astronauts, and partners. Professor Stephen Hawking named the new vehicle Virgin Spaceship (VSS) Unity via a recorded speech and said, “I would be very proud to fly on this spaceship.”
Continue reading ‘Virgin Galactic Rolls Out SpaceShipTwo No. 2’
A new bird will appear in Mojave tomorrow.
SpaceShipTwo No. 2 will be rolled out of the hanger amid as much hype and hoopla as Virgin Galactic can generate. (And they can generate A LOT. Trust me. I’ve seen it.)
By Douglas Messier
One of the most interesting aspects of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation into the SpaceShipTwo crash was how it pulled back the curtain on what was actually going on in the program being undertaken in Mojave. Over the years, the rhetoric has been frequently at odds with reality.
With Blue Origin’s successful re-flight of its reusable New Shepard booster and capsule on Friday, the company jumped ahead in the competition to fly people into space on a commercial basis.