Tag: space tourism

Roscosmos to Restart Space Tourist Flights to ISS

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Expedition 37 takes off for the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

Expedition 37 takes off for the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

Faced with the loss of a NASA contract to transport astronauts to the International Space Station, Roscosmos plans to restart a program to fly tourists to the orbiting laboratory in 2018:

“We plan compensating for the fall of demand for manned spaceships of the Soyuz family after 2018 by resuming short-term commercial expeditions to the Russian segment of the ISS,” Izvestia daily quoted a quarterly report posted by Energiya space corporation, the federal agency’s main subsidiary in the field of manned orbital flights.

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BBC Asks: Should the Poor Fund Space Travel on Virgin Galactic?

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The dream of space tourism has captured the imagination of many, including the British billionaire Sir Richard Branson. He wants to to pioneer commercial space flight but his aspirations have run into trouble in the deserts of New Mexico. Politicians there aren’t happy that local taxpayers are helping to fund the space port and, so far, the job opportunities promised, have not materialised. Everything’s on hold while Virgin Galactic builds a new spaceship and as Matt Wells reports from the state capital Santa Fe, the debate is raging.

(Photo: A security guard mans the WhiteKnightTwo aircraft carrier outside the Spaceport American Spaceport America Terminal Hangar Facility in New Mexico. Credit: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

Gibson Excited About XCOR Challenge; Greason Happy in New Role

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John (Jay) Gibson

John (Jay) Gibson

A bit more on the management changes that XCOR announced earlier this week.

Jay Gibson has taken over as CEO and President. The CEO position was formerly held by company founder Jeff Greason, who has moved over the chief technology officer (CTO) role.

The job of president was formerly held by Andrew Nelson. XCOR has no announcement about Nelson’s status.

Gibson says he moved on from his position at Beechcraft  Corp. because he was looking for something exciting to do.

“I’ve reached a point where I want to get involved in something that’s exciting,” he said. Gibson also wanted to get into a field still early in the development curve, where opportunities for growth abound. Commercial space fits that. And finally he wanted a company trying to do something unique. “When I became more versant in what XCOR does, and its driving towards a very commercial product, it was an easy decision.”

“Jay has the credibility and experience to expand the frontiers that we have, and the businesses we have,” Greason said.

Greason professes to be happy with his new role, which allows him to focus on technology and not CEO responsibilities such as fundraising and trying to figure out how to put more bathrooms in a World War II-era hangar in compliance with 21th century building codes.

Leaving his CEO and president position to move into a CTO role, Greason said he can now focus on advanced projects and next-generation developments — innovations that motivated his co-founding of XCOR in 1999.

“As the company has grown, it’s become a bigger and bigger job to run it,” Greason said. “And I can’t do both the advanced engineering and leadership, so now I can let Jay focus on the bigger picture, and I can focus on the things that I love to do.”

Greason said that advanced technology, the vision that he has for XCOR, the larger picture of the aerospace industry’s future and the regulatory and policy framework for the industry are his passions.

“It’s what wakes me up in the morning,” Greason said.

XCOR Still Heading for Texas — Eventually

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry flanked by XCOR officials in front of a full-scale mockup of the Lynx space plane in Midland. (Credit: Gov. Rick Perry's Office)

Texas Gov. Rick Perry flanked by XCOR officials in front of a full-scale mockup of the Lynx space plane in Midland. (Credit: Gov. Rick Perry’s Office)

Nearly three years after signing an agreement to move its headquarters to Midland, XCOR Aerospace is still in Mojave. But, the company’s executives are saying XCOR is still moving to West Texas.

XCOR Aerospace’s new CEO and President Jay Gibson and new Chief Technology Officer Jeff Greason reaffirmed that the Mojave, California-based private space company is still committed to making Midland its new home….

Gibson said that, when XCOR first announced in 2012 its partnership with local entities, a long-term vision was established that Midland was going to be a big part of XCOR’s identity.

“To be honest, that (vision) hasn’t changed,” Gibson said. “My role is just one of evolution to solidify that and get us to where Midland continues to be a significant part of our plans.”

Before joining XCOR, Gibson held high-level positions at Beechcraft Corp., the U.S. Air Force and Office of the Secretary of Defense. He was vice president of the Special Missions Group and vice president and CFO of the defense unit at Beechcraft Corp., and assistant secretary of the U.S. Air Force and deputy under the secretary of defense.

Gibson is also familiar with West Texas, having lived in Abilene for 11 years.

XCOR has suffered major delays in assembling the first Lynx rocket plane, which it originally hoped to have in flight tests by the end of 2012. The company plans to begin flight tests in Mojave before moving to Midland. It’s not clear when flight tests will begin.

XCOR Hires Former Beechcraft Exec as New CEO

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John (Jay) Gibson

John (Jay) Gibson

MOJAVE, CA, March 16, 2015 (XCOR PR) – XCOR Aerospace, Inc. announced today that executive John H. (Jay) Gibson II has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer and President of the company. Mr. Gibson succeeds Jeff Greason, who is transitioning to Chief Technology Officer. Mr. Greason will dedicate his time to Lynx development, XCOR’s orbital system and other crucial projects.

“After a thorough search for the ideal candidate, we decided on Jay Gibson.” said Mr. Greason. “There could not be a more opportune moment for XCOR to welcome Jay on board. With his prominent leadership and management roles at Beechcraft Corporation, the United States Air Force, The Department of Defense as well as other industries and organizations, Jay delivers the depth and breadth of leadership and experience necessary to elevate XCOR to the next level.”

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Anderson Updates Dona Ana County Officials on Spaceport America

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Spaceport America fly-in. (Credit: NMSA)

Spaceport America fly-in. (Credit: NMSA)

New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) Executive Director Christine Anderson briefed Dona Ana C0unty officials on the status of Spaceport America on Tuesday.

Anderson told commissioners that anchor tenant Virgin Galactic has talked about beginning flight tests on its second SpaceShipTwo vehicle this year, ” so “perhaps” the company will be able to begin commercial flights from Spaceport America in 2016.

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New Book to Cover Virgin Galactic’s First Decade

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virgin_galactic_10_years_bookErik Seedhouse has a new book coming out later this month about Virgin Galactic. A description from the book’s Amazon.com page:

Thirty years ago when Sir Richard Branson called up Boeing and asked if they had a spare 747, few would have predicted the brash entrepreneur would so radically transform the placid business of air travel. But today, Branson flies airlines on six continents, employs hundreds of jets and, in 2014, was predicting that his spaceship company – Virgin Galactic – would soon open the space frontier to commercial astronauts, payload specialists, scientists and space tourists. With more than 600 seats sold at $250,000 each, what started off as a dream to send people just for the excitement to look back and marvel at Earth, was on the cusp of finally being turned into a business.

Then, on October 21, 2014, tragedy struck. SpaceShipTwo was on its most ambitious test flight to date. Seconds after firing its engine, Virgin Galactic’s spaceship was breaking through the sound barrier. In just the three seconds that it took for the vehicle to climb from Mach 0.94 to Mach 1.02, co-pilot Mike Alsbury made what many close to the event believe was a fatal mistake that led to his death and the disintegration of SpaceShipTwo. Miraculously, the pilot, Peter Siebold, survived the 16-km fall back to Earth.

Soon after the event Branson vowed to continue his space tourism venture in spite of this. Already a second SpaceShipTwo is being built, and ticket-holders eagerly await the day when Virgin Galactic offers quick, routine and affordable access to the edge of space. This book explains the hurdles Virgin Galactic had and still has to overcome en route to developing suborbital space travel as a profitable economic entity, and describes the missions that will be flown on board SpaceShipTwo Mk II, including high-altitude science studies, astronomy, life sciences, and microgravity physics.

Virtuoso Chief in Australia Promoting SpaceShipTwo Ticket Sales

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Video Caption: Virtuoso CEO Matthew Upchurch appears on Australia’s Mornings to discuss the Virgin Galactic space tourism project – what to expect, when to expect it, and why removing yourself from your comfort zone is so important.

Video New Report on Spaceport America

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Midland to Build Engine Test Stand for XCOR

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The XCOR XR-5H25 engine was hot fired for the first time at the XCOR test site located on the Mojave Air & Space Port in Mojave, California. (Credit: XCOR)

The XCOR XR-5H25 engine was hot fired for the first time at the XCOR test site located on the Mojave Air & Space Port in Mojave, California. (Credit: XCOR)

NewsWest9.com reports the Midland City Council has approved the expenditure of up to $200,000 to build a rocket engine test stand for XCOR at the Midland International Air and Space Port. The money will come from the Midland Development Corporation.

XCOR has a lease to move its R&D facility to the west Texas city, which has put up incentives worth $10 million for the company. The move is planned for after XCOR begins flight tests of its Lynx suborbital spacecraft in Mojave, Calif.