Tag: Richard Branson

Photos Gallery: SpaceShipTwo Unity’s First Glide Flight

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Richard Branson addresses the crowd before SpaceShipTwo's glide flight. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

Richard Branson addresses the crowd before SpaceShipTwo’s glide flight. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

SpaceShipTwo glides over the Mojave Desert after being released from its WhiteKnightTwo mother ship. (Credit; Virgin Galactic)

SpaceShipTwo glides over the Mojave Desert after being released from its WhiteKnightTwo mother ship. (Credit; Virgin Galactic)

SpaceShipTwo glides to a landing at Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

SpaceShipTwo glides to a landing at Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

SpaceShipTwo glides through the Mojave sky followed by an Extra chase plane. (Credit; Ken Brown)

SpaceShipTwo glides through the Mojave sky followed by an Extra chase plane. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

SpaceShipTwo comes in for a landing at the Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

SpaceShipTwo comes in for a landing at the Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

SpaceShipTwo rolls to a stop on the runway at the Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

SpaceShipTwo rolls to a stop on the runway at the Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

Richard Branson and George Whitesides gaze out at SpaceShipTwo after it came to a stop on Runway 12. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Richard Branson and George Whitesides gave out at SpaceShipTwo after it came to a stop on Runway 12. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Richard Branson moves to embrace SpaceShipTwo pilots David Mackay and Mark Stucky. To Branson's right in Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

Richard Branson moves to embrace SpaceShipTwo pilots David Mackay and Mark Stucky. To Branson’s right is Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

Richard Branson (l) and George Whitesides (r) walk with SpaceShipTwo pilots David Mackay and Mark Stucky after a successful glide flight. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

Richard Branson (l) and George Whitesides (r) walk with SpaceShipTwo pilots David Mackay and Mark Stucky after a successful glide flight. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

SpaceShipTwo being towed back to Virgin Galactic's FAITH hangar after a successful glide flight. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

SpaceShipTwo being towed back to Virgin Galactic’s FAITH hangar after a successful glide flight. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

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Video: Richard Branson Addresses Crowd Before SpaceShipTwo Glide Flight

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Sir Richard Branson ventured out to Mojave Air & Space Port in California for the first glide flight of Virgin Gaalctic’s SpaceShipTwo Unity on Saturday, Dec. 3.

He addressed a crowd of a couple of hundred Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company employees who had gathered near the base of the Mojave control tower to witness the test.

It was the first flight of a SpaceShipTwo vehicle since the first spacecraft Enterprise was destroyed during a powered flight test on Halloween 2014. Unity will undergo a series of glide flights in the months ahead before powered flights begin sometime in 2017.

Keep up with Virgin Galactic and all the latest space news at http://www.parabolicarc.com and http://www.twitter.com/spacecom.

Video: A Festive Atmosphere in Mojave Before SpaceShipTwo Glide Flight

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Recorded at the base of the Mojave Air & Space Port’s control tower about 10 minutes before the drop of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Unity from its WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft.

It was a festive atmosphere as Sir Richard Branson joined employees of Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company and their families to watch the flight test.

This was the first flight test of a SpaceShipTwo in more than two years since the first spacecraft broke up during a flight test on Halloween 2014. Virgin Galactic will conduct a series of these tests before moving on to powered flights sometime in 2017.

Keep up with Virgin Galactic and all the latest space news at http://www.parabolicarc.com and http://www.twitter.com/spacecom.

SpaceShipTwo Glide Flight Scheduled for This Morning

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Good morning from Mojave!

We’re hearing that Virgin Galactic will attempt a glide flight of the SpaceShipTwo Unity later this morning. A Saturday flight test is fairly rare for Mojave.

We also hear that a special guest have ventured all the way from the Caribbean to witness the test. Dress warmly, Richie; it’s 28 F (-2 C) out there.

Ken Brown and I will be out covering the test. I will be tweeting it at http://www.twitter.com/spacecom.

The flight comes just over two years and one month after the destruction of the first SpaceShipTwo Enterprise during its fourth powered flight test. The accident killed Scaled Composites test pilot Mike Alsbury.

The second SpaceShipTwo has made four captive carry flights, one in September and three in November. Two of the November flights were scrubbed drop tests, the first on Nov. 1 due to weather and the second two days later due to an unspecified technical problem.

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Movement on Firefly-Virgin Galactic Legal Dispute?

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This is an interesting Tweet from Firefly Space Systems’ co-founder Michael A. Blum on Wednesday to Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides with a cc: to Whitesides’ boss, Richard Branson. Claude appears to be Claude M. Stern, one of Virgin Galactic’s lawyers.

Continue reading ‘Movement on Firefly-Virgin Galactic Legal Dispute?’

Video: Branson Says Space Tourism Competition Good

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CNBC Report: Private Funding Takes Space Race To New Heights

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CNBC’s Jane Wells talks to Elon Musk of SpaceX and Jeff Bezos of Blue Origin about commercial space activities.

Feds: Missing Money Funded Wolf of Wall Street Film

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Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street. (Credit: Red Granite Pictures)

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street. (Credit: Red Granite Pictures)

The scandal engulfing Aabar Investments just keeps getting stranger and stranger.

The U.S. Justice Department has charged that some of the funds allegedly stolen from the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB ended up funding The Wolf of Wall Street, a hit movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio as corrupt Wall Street stock broker Jordan Belfort.
Continue reading ‘Feds: Missing Money Funded Wolf of Wall Street Film’

Mojave Update: August Heat & Virgin Flights

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Richard Branson rolls out Virgin Galactic's Spaceship Unity in Mojave. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Richard Branson rolls out Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship Unity in Mojave. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

With the month of August upon us and no sign of relief from the oppressive desert heat, Mojave has at least one thing to look forward to: the first SpaceShipTwo flights in nearly two years.

Virgin Galactic officials have said they expect to begin flight tests of its second SpaceShipTwo vehicle sometime this month. The test program will begin with captive carry flights aboard the WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft followed by glide flights. Powered tests are expected in 2017.

Continue reading ‘Mojave Update: August Heat & Virgin Flights’

Entrepreneurial Lingo Lesson: The Pivot

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twist_chubby1_disrupt copy
First in an irregular series on entrepreneurial buzz words

Come on let’s pivot again,
Like we did last quarter!
Yeaaah, let’s pivot again,
Like we did last year!

Do you remember when,
ROI was really hummin’,
Yeaaaah, let’s pivot again,
Pivotin’ time is here!

Heeee, and round and round til IPO we go!
Oh, baby, make those investors love us so!

Let’s pivot again,
Like we did last quarter!
Yeaaah, let’s pivot again,
Like we did last year!

There comes a time in the existence of many startups when there an urgent need to change direction. You set up the company to pursue a goal, but for one reason or several — a lack of a market, shortage of investment, regulatory hurdles, a flawed concept — you have to direct all that talent, technology and enthusiasm toward a new objective that will keep the company in operation.

Continue reading ‘Entrepreneurial Lingo Lesson: The Pivot’

Smallsat Roundup: Japanese Launcher, Australia Nanosats & Virgin Funding

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LauncherOne ignites after being released from Cosmic Girl 747. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

LauncherOne ignites after being released from Cosmic Girl 747. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Japanese Startup: Nikkei Asian Review has an interview with Takahiro Inagawa, CEO of Interstellar Technologies, about his company’s plans to develop a cheap booster for launching small satellites. “Our focus is not to develop high-end rockets but something simple and affordable, just like the Super Cub (Honda Motor’s popular small motorbike),” Inagawa said. The company plans its first sounding rocket launch this summer. http://asia.nikkei.com/Tech-Science/Tech/Hokkaido-startup-aims-high-in-small-satellite-launches

Orders for Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne: Business Insider Australia reports that Australian startup Sky and Space Global plans launch part of its constellation of voice and data network nanosats aboard Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne. “It is expected to not only deliver substantial cost savings, due to LauncherOne’s ability to carry multiple nano-satellites simultaneously, but will enable us to bolster our bandwidth capacity as we launch further nano-satellites into orbit,” said company founder Meir Moalem. http://www.businessinsider.com.au/australias-sky-and-space-is-using-virgin-galactic-to-launch-nanosatellites-2016-6

UPDATE: The agreement is only a letter of intent, which falls short of firm orders for launches.

Virgin Galactic Fundraising: Sky News says that Richard Branson is raising up to $300 million for “existing shareholders” for Virgin Galactic.  “The latest injection of capital is aimed at accelerating the development of Galactic’s commercial satellite venture and expanding production capacity at the company’s headquarters,” Sky News reports. Virgin Galactic declined to comment. http://news.sky.com/story/1716551/branson-injects-cash-into-galactic-space-race

Video: Musk, Bezos & Branson Talk Commercial Space

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Planetary Resources Shelves Arkyd Space Selfies Due to Lack of Funding

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Arkyd-3 satellite (Credit: Planetary Resources)

Arkyd-3 satellite (Credit: Planetary Resources)

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.

Continue reading ‘Planetary Resources Shelves Arkyd Space Selfies Due to Lack of Funding’

A Tale of Two Prizes

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SpaceShipOne on the floor beside the Spirit of St. Louis of the National Air & Space Museum. (Credit: National Air & Space Museum)

SpaceShipOne on the floor beside the Spirit of St. Louis of the National Air & Space Museum. (Credit: National Air & Space Museum)

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.

Continue reading ‘A Tale of Two Prizes’

Branson Signs Deal for Supersonic Passenger Plane

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Supersonic passenger jet (Credit: Boom)

Supersonic passenger jet (Credit: Boom)

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.

Continue reading ‘Branson Signs Deal for Supersonic Passenger Plane’