Tag: space tourists

Branson: Virgin Galactic Costing Lots of Money

Richard Branson speaks to the press at the Mojave Air and Space Port about the crash off SpaceShipTwo. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Richard Branson speaks to the press at the Mojave Air and Space Port about the crash off SpaceShipTwo. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Richard Branson has suggested that Virgin Galactic’s burn rate is $14 million per month (according to an interview with The Independent) or $15 million or month (according to The Express). That would put annual expenses at between $168 and $180 million.

If that’s the burn rate, it will go up quite a bit when flight testing resumes on SpaceShipTwo. Powered flights of the vehicle are reported to cost close to $1 million apiece.

Branson also says he’s trying to raise $400 million for OneWeb, the global satellite Internet program headed by Greg Wyler.  The Virgin Group is an investor in the company and plans to launch a portion of the 900 plus satellites in the constellation with its LauncherOne rocket.

Meet the Virgin Galactic Pilots


Video Caption: An introduction to our Pilot Corps, narrated by Virgin Galactic’s Chief Pilot, Dave Mackay, including behind the scenes shots of our Spaceship factory.

Videos: SpaceShipTwo Cockpit Nearly Hit Two Truck Drivers


Following the tragic death of Mike Alsbury in the crash of SpaceShipTwo in October, it was said that  the FAA’s mandate to protect the uninvolved public from harm had been kept. The debris had not injured or killed anyone on the ground.

It was a very near thing, as these two videos I recorded right after the crash demonstrate. Two trucks drivers going in opposite directions were nearly hit by SpaceShipTwo’s cockpit when it slammed into Cantil Road. This was where Alsbury’s body came to rest.

SpaceShipTwo was dropped over the Koehn Lake area because of its low population density. However, the area was unusually crowded because of road construction. The reason we found the cockpit’s impact site is that the Redrock Randsburg Road was being worked on. The site was on the detour route as we tried to reach the site of the largest piece of debris, which had come down on the edge of the lake bed.

The spot where SpaceShipTwo's cockpit crashed. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

The spot where SpaceShipTwo’s cockpit crashed. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Apologies for the poor camera work. I was working with a camera with a back display that was hard to see in the bright sunlight.

New Mexico Has Lengthy Wait for Commercial SpaceShipTwo Flights

The second SpaceShipTwo under construction. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

The second SpaceShipTwo under construction. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

BBC Transport Correspondent trekked out to Mojave to pay a visit to Virgin Galactic. He found the second SpaceShipTwo — which the company had planned to complete by April — still a long way from being airworthy and CEO George Whitesides reluctant to make predictions.

Then we spar over flight dates. In the end, the best I could get was that paying customers could be up within 18 months to two years, maybe sooner, but not much longer, so not five years, for example….

Virgin have been building a new spaceship since 2012, tucked away in a shiny hangar being battered by the desert wind. They showed us how it’s coming along.
Continue reading ‘New Mexico Has Lengthy Wait for Commercial SpaceShipTwo Flights’

BBC Newsnight Story on Virgin Galactic


BBC Newsnight story about Virgin Galactic in which I am interviewed.

There’s also a story by correspondent Mark Urban.  I’m misquoted in the story; there’s been about $600 million  spent on the program as of November, including $390 by the government of Abu Dhabi through Aabar Investments. The story says the Aabar funding is in addition to the $600 million.

Flashback: Virgin Galactic Announces Switch From Rubber to Nylon Engine

RocketMotorTwo firing. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

RocketMotorTwo firing. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Parabolic Arc Flashback: One year ago, Virgin Galactic announced it changing SpaceShipTwo’s propulsion system from a rubber hybrid to a nylon hybrid engine due to demonstrated better performance. The news was announced on a Friday at the start of long holiday weekends in the U.S. and Britain, a perfect time to dump news when neither reporters nor the public are paying much attention. Sierra Nevada, by the way, was blindsided that their rubber engine was being dropped and their lucrative agreement was going away.

Today, the nylon engine decision is being re-evaluated due to performance. The company recently revealed it is testing both hybid engines again, and it might go back to using the rubber one. That means the company still doesn’t know how its going to power its spacecraft despite being nearly 11 years into the SpaceShipTwo program. That explains why it is taking as long as it is.

MOJAVE, Calif., May 23, 2014 (Virgin Galactic PR) – Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline which is owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s aabar Investments PJS, has selected a polyamide-based fuel grain to power its hybrid rocket motor for the remainder of the test flight program and start of commercial operations. This decision follows numerous ground test firings and is supported by data collected over an extensive development program.

Continue reading ‘Flashback: Virgin Galactic Announces Switch From Rubber to Nylon Engine’

Virgin Galactic Lowers Second SpaceShipTwo Onto Landing Gear


XCOR Featured on ABC World News Tonight

Rick Searfoss of XCOR on ABC World News Tonight. (Credit: ABC News)

Rick Searfoss of XCOR on ABC World News Tonight. (Credit: ABC News)

XCOR was featured in the Made in America segment of ABC World News Tonight on Thursday.

XCOR Receives Funding From Chinese Venture Capital Firm

Lynx Mark I with strakes bonded. (Credit: XCOR)

Lynx Mark I with strakes bonded. (Credit: XCOR)

XCOR hasn’t announced this yet, but Haiyin Capital’s investment is listed on the venture capital firm’s website and was mentioned in a story by Fortune:

The trip is organized by Chinese venture capital firm Haiyin Capital, which just finished dispersing its third fund of $50 million into mostly U.S. tech startups like energy storage startup LightSail Energy, based in the Bay Area, solar tech startup 1366 technologies, located just outside of Boston, private space flight company XCOR Aerospace, in Mojave, Calif., and crowdfunding company AngelList (distributed offices)….

Haiyin Capital founding managing partner Yuquan Wang (pronounced “Yee-chwan”) uniquely straddles the U.S. and Chinese tech worlds; he teamed up with consulting firm Frost & Sullivan early on in his career and as a consultant helped China Mobile grow from almost nothing to the mobile juggernaut it is today. He started investing in both Chinese and U.S. tech startups about a decade ago.

Wang told Fortune in an interview that there are many promising young startups in the U.S. that can make really complicated high tech products, but have a problem reaching mass production. When startups are small and only at the R&D stage, their valuation is small and the big capital they need to get to the next level can’t be raised, he says. But they often need a big investment to reach that large manufacturing scale and to reach a big global market, which will eventually lead to a much bigger valuation. “It’s like a chicken-and-egg problem,” says Wang.

New XCOR Video


Video Caption: A Customer event by XCOR Space Expeditions, where ticket holders were invited to the Hangar in Mojave, to experience the build of Lynx and to meet its engineers and the founders behind this project.