Tag: space tourism

SpaceShipTwo Conducts Successful Glide Flight

Comments
WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo just after takeoff from the Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo just after takeoff from the Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

It’s funny. You see the most interesting things driving into Mojave sometimes. Driving in on Highway 14 this morning, I saw that WhiteKnightTwo was down at the end of the runway, as I had expected. I new a flight was planned, so I got up early.

Then I noticed it seemed to be getting bigger and a whole bunch of dust getting kicked up. Hey! That thing’s taking off. So, I pulled over to the side of the road and snapped a few photos as it flew overhead.

Takeoff! (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Takeoff! (Credit: Douglas Messier)

WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo are pretty amazing vehicles to look at. You don’t get tired of watching them take off.

For this flight, I decided to drive up to Koehn Lake, which is a dry lake bed that’s probably 20 miles or so north of Mojave. I figured it would be a good spot to try to get some photos of the drop.

It would have been, had my camera been cooperation. But, it picked a fine time to go not cooperate with me. I did get a few shots of the release with my cell phone.

SpaceShipTwo on a glide flight with WhiteKnightTwo above it. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

SpaceShipTwo on a glide flight with WhiteKnightTwo above it. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

SpaceShipTwo was venting something, but I saw no flames nor did I hear the rumbling across the desert that accompanies a powered flight. It was fairly silent out there, except for the distant drone of WhiteKnightTwo’s engine. [UPDATE: Virgin Galactic confirms that the test was a cold flow of gasses used in  powered flight.]

Virgin Galactic Tweeted that it was “an in-flight test of #SpaceShipTwo’s ‘plumbing’ – the pressurization system for the rocket motor.” It’s also a dress rehearsal for the next powered flight, which the company promises is “coming soon.”

That flight will likely come in September. I’m looking forward to it.

Orbital Outfitters Gives Midland Preview of Vacuum Chamber Complex

Comments

orbital_outfittersOn Wednesday, representatives of Orbital Outfitters and Holder Aerospace gave an overview of the vacuum chamber complex they plan to build to the Midland Development Corporation (MDC).

The complex features three chambers — a vacuum system, an observation room and safety support systems — according to a presentation made by co-developers Holder Aerospace and Orbital Outfitters. Two of the chambers will be used to test the space suits that Orbital Outfitters are custom-building for XCOR Aerospace’s Lynx space vehicle.

Continue reading ‘Orbital Outfitters Gives Midland Preview of Vacuum Chamber Complex’

Book Review: Safe is Not An Option

17 Comments

safe_not_optionSafe is Not an Option: Overcoming the Futile Obsession with Getting Everyone Back Alive that is Killing Our Expansion into Space
By Rand Simberg
Interglobal Media LLC
2013

On May 26, 1865, Captain J. C. Mason pushed off from a dock in Vicksburg, Miss., and steered the steam-powered paddle wheeler SS Sultana north along the rain-swollen Mississippi River. The Sultana’s decks groaned from the weight of more than 2,500 passengers and crew members.

At 2 a.m. the following morning, the ship’s boilers exploded north of Memphis. As many as 1,800 people died in the explosion and fire or drowned in the fast flowing river. The majority of the dead were Union soldiers recently released from a pair of hellish Confederate prison camps. Their ticket home had become a death warrant.

Continue reading ‘Book Review: Safe is Not An Option’

Attenborough Sez: Virgin Galactic Just Like Virgin Trains

Comment

Video Caption: Virgin Trains interviewing Stephen Attenborough, Commercial Director of Virgin Galactic, on the Kendal Calling Express on-route to Kendal Calling. Space being the theme for 2014 and Virgin Trains as Travel Partners of the Festival.

Branson Reiterates Plan to Fly By End of Year

33 Comments
Sir Richard Branson "high tens" with SpaceShip2 test pilot Mark Stuckey following the successful first powered flight of SpaceShipTwo. At left is Mark Stuckey's wife Cheryl and at right is Virgin Galactic President and CEO George Whitesides..  The spacecraft was dropped rom its "mothership", WhiteKnight2 over the Mojave, CA area, April 29, 2013 at high altitude before firing its hybrid power motor. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Sir Richard Branson “high tens” with SpaceShip2 test pilot Mark Stuckey following the successful first powered flight of SpaceShipTwo. At left is Mark Stuckey’s wife Cheryl and at right is Virgin Galactic President and CEO George Whitesides.. The spacecraft was dropped rom its “mothership”, WhiteKnight2 over the Mojave, CA area, April 29, 2013 at high altitude before firing its hybrid power motor. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Maria Bartiromo talks to Richard Branson about a number of subjects, including Virgin Galactic.

Q: You mentioned Virgin Galactic — what is your timing in terms of this program taking off?

A: I’ll be bitterly disappointed if I’m not into space by the end of the year. The rockets have now tested successfully. We’ve got three more rocket tests and then we should be up, up and away by the end of the year. That should be the start of the program. The space port’s ready. We are now in the last few weeks before finally embarking on the space program.

The “three more rocket tests” are likely the “handful” of additional powered flights that Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides has mentioned in recent months.

Continue reading ‘Branson Reiterates Plan to Fly By End of Year’

XCOR Breaking Down Walls with Midland – One Step Closer to Space

Comments
Full-scale Lynx mockup (Credit: XCOR)

Full-scale Lynx mockup (Credit: XCOR)

Wall Breaking Ceremony Marks Start of Hangar Renovations

Midland, Texas, August 15, 2014 (XCOR PR) —At 10am this morning, just feet from the runway which will rocket XCOR® Lynx® customers to space and back, Midland Development Corporation and XCOR Aerospace® invited local officials, contractors, Midland residents and local press to attend the kickoff of new renovations on the XCOR hangar with a ceremonial wall breaking inside of XCOR’s Commercial Spaceflight Research and Development Center Headquarters at Midland International Airport (MAF).

Continue reading ‘XCOR Breaking Down Walls with Midland – One Step Closer to Space’

Mojave Journal: Memorial to a Forgotten Astronaut

41 Comments
Credit: Douglas Messier

Credit: Douglas Messier

If there was a prize for the most isolated memorial to an America astronaut, the one for Maj. Michael J. Adams would win by a wide margin.

From Mojave, it’s a drive of nearly 50 miles through the sagebrush and Joshua trees, around dry Koehn Lake, and through the old mining towns of Randsburg and Johannesburg before you reach the unmarked dirt road leading to the site. A half mile of bad road later, you arrive at the modest but heartfelt memorial to one of America’s forgotten space heroes.

Continue reading ‘Mojave Journal: Memorial to a Forgotten Astronaut’

XCOR to Display Lynx Mockup in Monterey This Evening

Comments
Full-scale Lynx mockup (Credit: XCOR)

Full-scale Lynx mockup (Credit: XCOR)

MONTEREY, Calif,, August 13, 2014 (XCOR PR) — XCOR Aerospace presents its XCOR® Lynx® spacecraft full scale model as part of tonight’s Gordon McCall’s Motorworks Revival 2014, at the Monterey Jet Center. Dubbed a “Space Corvette” by Popular Mechanics, Lynx is a two-seat, fully reusable spaceplane designed to rocket XCOR customers to the edge of space in five minutes. Piloted by NASA Space Shuttle Commander Rick Searfoss, Lynx is currently under construction at the XCOR hangar in Mojave, California.

Continue reading ‘XCOR to Display Lynx Mockup in Monterey This Evening’

Holly Branson Likely Out of First SpaceShipTwo Commercial Flight

Comments
 Sir Richard Branson and daughter, Holly, look through the window of a SpaceShipTwo shell. (Photo credit: Mark Greenberg/Virgin Galactic)

Sir Richard Branson and daughter, Holly, look through the window of a SpaceShipTwo shell. (Photo credit: Mark Greenberg/Virgin Galactic)

Editor’s Note: It’s official. Sir Richard has been reassuring the British media that Holly will not be the first person to give birth in space — a rather outlandish idea that some in the press corps over there seem strangely fixated on. Welcome to the world, twins! Now get ready for the 6G re-entry. Bizarre.

It would seem that Richard Branson’s daughter Holly will not be joining her famous father and brother Sam on the first SpaceShipTwo commercial flight, which is scheduled for the end of the year from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

“Freddie and I are delighted to share the happy news that we are expecting twins!” Holly Branson announced on Tuesday in a blog post on the Virgin Group’s website.

Passengers aboard SpaceShipTwo are expected to briefly experience up to six times the force of normal gravity during the suborbital flight.

Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides has said the company plans to conduct a “handful” of additional SpaceShipTwo test flights at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California before moving operations to New Mexico later this year.

The Branson flight is set to kickoff commercial service of the vehicle, for which about 700 people have signed up. Tickets cost $250,000 each.

Virgin Galactic Partners With Book Publisher

Comments
Credit: Virgin Galactic

Credit: Virgin Galactic

MOJAVE, Calif., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014 (VG PR) — Virgin Galactic, the privately-funded space company owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s aabar Investments PJS, today announced a partnership with global book publisher DK to create seven exclusive titles over the next two years. The first book under the agreement, Virgin Galactic: The Ultimate Experience, will be published in October 2014 as Virgin Galactic moves toward the launch of commercial spaceflight.

Continue reading ‘Virgin Galactic Partners With Book Publisher’