Tag: space tourism

Virgin Galactic Significantly Altered Claims After SpaceShipTwo Crash

SpaceShipTwo lights its engine as WhiteKnightTwo flies overhead. (Credit: Ken Brown)

SpaceShipTwo lights its engine as WhiteKnightTwo flies overhead. (Credit: Ken Brown)

Immediately after the tragic crash of SpaceShipTwo on Halloween, Virgin Galactic took down its website and replaced it with a single page containing a brief statement about the accident. The website stayed that way, with additional statements and a handful of links, for three weeks. It was not until Nov. 20th that Virgin Galactic pushed a new website with full information about itself and its services.

Not only did the website have a different design from the old one, the text on it had been significantly altered. Previous claims about passenger load, maximum altitude and safety had been toned down, subtly altered or abandoned completely. My guess is that Virgin’s lawyers went through the site line by line before it was relaunched.
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Virool Contest Revamped After SpaceShipTwo Crash

Swimsuit 2014: Zero Gravity Kate Upton Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA. (Credit: James Macari)

Swimsuit 2014: Zero Gravity
Kate Upton
Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA. (Credit: James Macari)

Video startup Virool has significant reworked its contest in the wake of the crash of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo in October.

Instead of offering a trip to space, Virool will send a marketing team on a trip aboard Zero-Gravity Corporation’s parabolic aircraft.

“For one full day, you and your entire video marketing team will experience weightlessness on the same aircraft that NASA uses. Between 24,000 and 35,000 feet above the ground, you’ll float, flip, soar and even EAT as if you were in outer space,” the company says on its website.

Ad Week reports the company will hold onto its Virgin Galactic ticket for use when the company begins commercial flights.

For information about the contest, click here.

XCOR Continues to Make Progress on First Lynx Vehicle

Lynx Mark 1 under assembly. (Credit: XCOR)

Lynx Mark 1 under assembly. (Credit: XCOR)

Mojave, CA, Dec 18, 2014 (XCOR PR) — The XCOR Lynx® suborbital spacecraft continues to make rapid progress towards final assembly. Immediately after bonding the cockpit to the fuselage, the shop crews set up for the delicate and precise operation of bonding the carry-through spar on to the rear end of the Lynx fuselage.

“The carry-through spar is the heart of the loading structure on any winged craft – it supports the primary load of the wings and carries that load through the fuselage,” says XCOR CEO Jeff Greason. “Attaching the spar on a composite vehicle is a one-way operation, so it has to be done right the first time.

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Bristol Spaceplanes Launches Crowdfunding Campaign

Ascender (Credit: Bristol Spaceplanes)

Ascender (Credit: Bristol Spaceplanes)

BRISTOL, England (Bristol Spaceplanes PR) — Bristol Spaceplanes are launching a crowdfunding campaign to bring their Ascender space plane to life and affordable space flights one step closer.

Space tourism is currently only an option for the wealthy, something that Bristol Spaceplanes are looking to change. Through crowdfunding, they hope to raise £10,000 which would enable them to build the first model Ascender space plane, plus raise awareness of the realities of space travel.

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Spaceport America Launches Online Store


Spaceport America Store

Just in time for the holidays, Spaceport America has opened an online story to help bring in revenues while it awaits the start of Virgin Galactic flights are probably 18 to 24 months away. The spaceport is facing a budget gap of about $1.7 million per year.

So if you’re interested in Spaceport America branded t-shirts and hats $25 apiece, $40 polo shirts or $50 hoodies, visit shop.spaceportamerica.com.  They’re also selling some cheaper items like $12 teddy bears and $10 travel mugs.


Private Russian Startups Pursue New Launcher, Space Tourism Vehicle

Two-stage Aldan rocket. (Credit: Lin Industrial)

Two-stage Aldan rocket. (Credit: Lin Industrial)

Even as Vladimir Putin and his merry band of bureaucrats and oligarchs are busy re-nationalizing the Russian space industry under the control of one fully-owned government company, there is some sign of independent entrepreneurial life within the nation’s space effort.

Start-up companies have sprouted up to launch satellites and to pursue small satellite launch vehicles and space tourism systems. All of these companies appear to be nurtured by a government created and run incubator called Skolkovo that is designed to be Russia’s answer to Silicon Valley.

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Video: Branson Comments on SpaceShipTwo Accident, Talks Future


Editor’s Note: The number of engineers working on the project seems to have shrunk from 400 or more down to 350. Branson also makes a few questionable assertions in the video. Rather than me pointing them out, see if you can spot them.

Paris Match has the full interview here (in French).

What Scaled, Virgin & Peter Diamandis Said After Last Fatal SpaceShipTwo Program Accident

Part of SpaceShipTwo's fuselage. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

Part of SpaceShipTwo’s fuselage. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The crash of SpaceShipTwo and the tragic loss of Scaled Composites test pilot Mike Alsbury were stark reminders that despite all the promises about the safety of new space tourism vehicles, space travel is a dangerous business where death can come in seconds.

If outsiders were stunned by the tragedy, it had a sickeningly familiar feel to long-time Mojave denizens. Mike Alsbury was not the first Scaled employee to die developing SpaceShipTwo for Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spaceline. He was the fourth. Three engineers preceded him seven years earlier in a horrific accident at the Mojave spaceport.

The  2007 tragedy was quite different from the one that occurred over Jawbone Canyon on Halloween. The response to it was both different and eerily familiar.

Continue reading ‘What Scaled, Virgin & Peter Diamandis Said After Last Fatal SpaceShipTwo Program Accident’

BBC Radio 4 Program About Virgin Galactic

SpaceShipTwo disintegrates as its two tail booms fall away. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

SpaceShipTwo disintegrates as its two tail booms fall away. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

BBC Radio 4’s The Report broadcast an excellent half hour program on the SpaceShipTwo accident on Thursday. I was featured on the program along with other sources.

You can listen to the program(me) here.

Program Description: “The fatal explosion of a Virgin Galactic space plane at the end of October 2014 was a major set-back to Sir Richard Branson’s dream of a flourishing space tourism venture. Lesley Curwen tells the story behind the crash and asks whether the highly lucrative Virgin brand will survive the tragedy.”

Land Rover to Offer Alternative Prizes in Galactic Discovery Competition

First Discovery Sport rolls off the assembly line. (Cedit: Land Rover)

First Discovery Sport rolls off the assembly line. (Credit: Land Rover)

Land Rover will offer alternative prizes to the winners of the Galactic Discovery competition following the loss of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo last month. The global winner would have earned a flight into space aboard SpaceShipTwo for himself and three friends.

Land Rover has published the following statement on its website (emphasis added):

Following the tragic accident involving Virgin Galactic’s test flight we have taken the decision to close the Galactic Discovery competition to new entries. The thoughts of everyone at Land Rover are with our friends at Virgin Galactic and test flight partner Scaled Composites.

All entries received up to and including October 31st, 2014 will go through the judging process as planned, and one winner will be selected from each participating market (the National Prize winners), followed by an overall global winner (the Bonus Prize winner).

In these exceptional circumstances, and in line with the competition terms and conditions, we will be offering an alternative prize to the global winner and, in some cases, to the national winners. You have our commitment that all prize winners will receive an amazing and memorable Land Rover experience, the details of which will be confirmed before December 2nd.

Thank you for your understanding,
The Land Rover team

Meanwhile, Virgin Galactic and Land Rover logos have been removed from the doors of six Land Rovers that Virgin Galactic has been using at its headquarters in Mojave, Calif.

Land Rover is still listed as an official Virgin Galactic brand partner on the spaceline’s website.