Tag: space tourists

An Update on SpaceShipTwo

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SpaceShipTwo glides to a landing during a test flight on June 26. (Credit: Virgin Galactic/Chris Van Pelt)

SpaceShipTwo glides to a landing during a test flight on June 26. (Credit: Virgin Galactic/Chris Van Pelt)

An update on SpaceShipTwo from Virgin Galactic’s Mark Butler:

The Las Cruces-based Butler said Virgin Galactic has big plans for 2016, including the introduction of a new spaceship. He said Virgin Galactic hopes to debut the spaceship on Feb. 19 in California and begin testing again. The company may also perform test launches in New Mexico this year, as the goal is to start launching people into space in 2018.

As launching commercial flights into space becomes more of a reality, Butler said the company plans on shifting more of its operations to New Mexico. He said Virgin Galactic has 600 employees, most of whom are based in California where the company is manufacturing and testing its spaceships. There is a team of about 20 people based in Las Cruces, but Butler said the company plans to move 100 to 120 of its employees to the city in the coming years.

Read the full story.

Legislative Fiscal Impact Analysis on Spaceport America Measure

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Sunset at the "Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space" terminal hangar facility at Spaceport America. (Credit: Bill Gutman/Spaceport America)

Sunset at the “Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space” terminal hangar facility at Spaceport America. (Credit: Bill Gutman/Spaceport America)

The following is the New Mexico legislative fiscal impact report for SB-157, a measure introduced by State Sen. Lee Cotter (R-Las Cruces) to restrict use taxes collected in Sierra and Dona Ana counties to paying off Spaceport America bonds. Revenues in excess of what is needed to pay off the bonds are being used to fund spaceport operations.

The analysis indicates that excess revenues could be used to pay off the two bonds one year earlier than their 2029 maturation date. However, the restriction would put a gap in the spaceport’s operating budget that would have to be paid by state taxpayers. Spaceport officials are already seeking $2.26 million from the state government for the upcoming 2017 fiscal year to fund operations.

The revenue gaps at the $225 million spaceport have been caused by delays by anchor tenant Virgin Galactic, which plans to fly tourists to space from the facility. New Mexico officials are hoping flights begin in Fiscal Year 2018, which will begin on July 1, 2017. Virgin Galactic has not given an estimate for when service will begin.

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A Close Look at Spaceport America’s FY 2017 Budget Request

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WhiteKnightTwo visited Spaceport America for the first time in three years on Wednesday. Below, you can see a full-scale model of SpaceShipTwo on the ramp. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

WhiteKnightTwo visited Spaceport America for the first time in three years on Wednesday. Below, you can see a full-scale model of SpaceShipTwo on the ramp. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Attention New Mexicans!

Have you been wondering exactly what Spaceport America costs to operate? Curious about what officials spend money on? Anxious to know what this is going to cost you in the fiscal year ahead?  Dying to learn how much anchor tenant Virgin Galactic is contributing to the budget?

Well, look no further. Parabolic Arc has the spaceport’s budget request for FY 2017, which begins on July 1. There’s a full description of spending and projected revenues right after the break.

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Character, Candor & Competence: Lessons From the SpaceShipTwo Crash

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SpaceShipTwo right boom wreckage. (Credit: NTSB)

SpaceShipTwo right boom wreckage. (Credit: NTSB)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

One of the most interesting aspects of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation into the SpaceShipTwo crash was how it pulled back the curtain on what was actually going on in the program being undertaken in Mojave. Over the years, the rhetoric has been frequently at odds with reality.

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Check Out Virgin Galactic’s New Flight Suits

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Video Caption: Astronauts piloting Virgin Galactic’s commercial space flights will suit-up in these one-piece uniforms by Yohji Yamamoto and Adidas’ brand Y-3.

The prototype spacesuits and accompanying boots were revealed at the Foster + Partners-designed Spaceport America in New Mexico today.

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Update on Virgin Galactic-Firefly Litigation

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Credit: Daniel Mayer

Credit: Daniel Mayer

Just a brief update on the legal fight between Virgin Galactic and Firefly Space Systems.

The hearing scheduled for today in Los Angeles Superior Court has been postponed until Feb. 23. The hearing concerns a lawsuit filed by Firefly board member P.J. King seeking to overturn an arbitrator’s ruling that he must turn over documents and other materials to Virgin Galactic.

I’ve been getting some inquiries from media about the court documents. The lawsuit filed in LA County Superior Court is online at https://www.lacourt.org/. Do a search in civil cases under online services. The documents are not in the federal PACER system.

The documents for the Clark County, Nevada district court filing were not online the last time I looked. Your best bet would be to contact the parties involved. You will find contact information in the documents filed for the Los Angeles lawsuit.

For anyone who wants to get caught up on this story, here’s Parabolic Arc’s coverage to date:

Updated: Firefly Board Member Sues to Stop Alleged Virgin Galactic “Fishing Expedition” – Dec. 16, 2015

Here’s the Information Virgin Galactic Has Sought From Firefly – Dec. 17, 2015

Former Propulsion Chief Accuses Virgin Galactic of Lying About SpaceShipTwo’s Safety, Performance – Jan. 12, 2016

New Virgin Galactic Pilot Flies WhiteKnightTwo

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WhiteKnightTwo’s been flying over Mojave lately. The desert has been in the depths of its wintry worst over the past month (low temp on New Year’s morning, 22 Fahrenheit or -5.5 Celsius). It wasn’t that cold on Friday, but Latimer’s outdoor shower was undoubtedly a cold one.

Another Spaceport America Update

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WhiteKnightTwo visited Spaceport America for the first time in three years on Wednesday. Below, you can see a full-scale model of SpaceShipTwo on the ramp. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

WhiteKnightTwo visited Spaceport America for the first time in three years on Wednesday. Below, you can see a full-scale model of SpaceShipTwo on the ramp. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

The Las Cruces Sun-News has an update from Christine Anderson, executive director of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority. The highlights are below.

  • Virgin Galactic remains “completely committed” to Spaceport America despite recent remarks by Richard Branson that the company also wants to fly from a British spaceport.
  • Doña Ana County officials are moving forward with a plan to pave a dirt road that will provide more direct access to Spaceport America from Las Cruces. A contract could be awarded as early as July.
  • The spaceport expects to earn $4 million in fiscal year 2017 that begins on July 1. It will still need $2.8 million from the New Mexico Legislature to cover its operating budget.
  • Officials are expecting Virgin Galactic to begin flying from Spaceport America during FY 2018. Virgin’s annual rent will increase during that year from $1 million to around $3 million.
  • ARCASpace is planning to test their AirStrato vehicle at Spaceport America this year.
  • Officials are continuing efforts to attract more businesses to the spaceport, including positioning it as a location for filming and events.

The rent hike is interesting. If Virgin Galactic isn’t flying people or launching satellites — i.e., generating revenues — by the time the rent triples, the company could face some serious challenges.

One wonders if this is what is behind Virgin’s decision to go to three shifts per day building the second SpaceShipTwo.  The other concern is that the company will try to rush the program forward and short change the development and testing processes.

SpaceShipTwo No. 2 Getting Ready for its Closeup

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Missing the Significance of Blue Origin’s Landing Milestone

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It has occurred to me in recent days that the significance Blue Origin’s landing of its New Shepard rocket and capsule last month has been totally misconstrued by the public, press and most of the commentators on this blog. Now, I don’t really blame them for this; I blame Jeff Bezos.

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Stephen Hawking Might Help Unveil Second SpaceShipTwo in February

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Video Caption: Professor Stephen Hawking is one of the people I admire most in the world, an undisputed genius who has opened our eyes to the wonders of the universe, while also happening to be a kind and delightful man. He is the only person I have given a free ticket with Virgin Galactic, and he is signed up to fly as a Future Astronaut with us if his health permits it.

We all wish Stephen the very best as he continues his recovery from recent health issues. We are very honoured that Stephen has agreed to help us unveil our new spaceship in February if he is feeling well enough. He has long been an inspirational for all the team, as well as an enthusiastic advocate for our goals of democratising access to space for the benefit of life on earth. Ahead of that milestone, our brilliant Astronaut Relations team recently arranged an event for our Future Astronauts with Professor Hawking at Cambridge University, on a day centred on the theme of astronomy.

XCOR Engineers Announce Major Breakthrough in Engine Technology

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Lynx engine hot fire. (Credit: XCOR)

Lynx engine hot fire. (Credit: XCOR)

MOJAVE, Calif., 14 December 2015 (XCOR PR) — XCOR Director of Engineering and acting CTO Michael Valant announced today that his team has reached an important milestone in the development of the reusable 5K18 Lynx main propulsion rocket engine. His engineers were able to ‘close the loop’ of the thermodynamic system under test conditions, a key technology for the Lynx sub-orbital vehicle.

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The Promise of Spaceport America in the Words of its Supporters

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Sir Richard Branson and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Sir Richard Branson and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

“This business will mark a milestone in world history, and it will launch a new space industry — a private space industry, driven by innovators and entrepreneurs and new technologies and bold thinkers.”
— Richard Branson

“What we are calling the second space age will open up a wide range of commercial opportunities, including point-to-point cargo delivery, with personal and business travel.”
— Gov. Bill Richardson

Ten years ago today, Virgin Galactic and New Mexico announced a deal for development what became known as Spaceport America. New Mexico would built a $225-million spaceport with taxpayer’s dollars in the desert near Truth or Consequences. Sir Richard Branson’s new space company would sign a 20-year lease to fly tourists aboard SpaceShipTwo from the facility beginning in 2008.  New Mexico also expected the spaceport to be used by UP Aerospace, Starchaser Industries, and Peter Diamandis’ Rocket Racing League and X Prize Cup.

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NM & Virgin Galactic Announced Spaceport America Deal 10 Years Ago

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Early Spaceport America artwork showed facilities built underground. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Early Spaceport America artwork showed facilities built underground. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Space Tourism Flashback
10 Years Ago Today

SANTE FE, NM, Dec. 14, 2005 (Gov. Bill Richardson PR) — Governor Bill Richardson and Sir Richard Branson, Chairman of the Virgin Companies, today announced that Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial space tourism business, will locate its world headquarters and Mission Control in New Mexico. The agreement between the State of New Mexico and Virgin Galactic calls for New Mexico to build a $225 million spaceport in the southern part of the state, on 27- square miles of state land.

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Video: XCOR CEO John Gibson at ISPCS

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Video Caption: Just as many companies in rapidly evolving industries, XCOR is seeking how to be market relevant and profitable in the next stages of its lifecycle. My role and challenges reflect the evolution of the company and the focus on translating current and future market opportunities into a successful, private enterprise. Experience in the civil aviation sector brings many insights and parallels to this market evolution and its future opportunities.