Tag: space tourists

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.

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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.

House Science Committee Gives Industry What It Wants


Capitol Building
The commercial space industry had a great day on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, with the Republican-controlled House Science Committee giving it most of what it wanted while swatting away proposed changes from the minority Democrats.

Among the goodies approved by the committee: a decade-long extension of the moratorium on regulating commercial human spaceflight;  a nine-year extension of industry-government cost sharing for damages caused by launch accidents; and an act that would give companies property rights to materials they mine from asteroids.

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XCOR Aerospace Announces Strakes Bonded to Lynx Mark I Spacecraft

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

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

Mojave, CA, May 08, 2015 (XCOR PR) — XCOR Aerospace, Inc. announced today that it has bonded the XCOR Lynx Mark I strakes to the Lynx spacecraft fuselage. Lynx Mark I is currently being assembled at XCOR’s Hangar 61 in Mojave, California.

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Cruz Puts Forth Measure to Extend Commercial Spaceflight Learning Period

Sen. Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz

Against the wishes of federal regulators, the commercial spaceflight industry would get another five years to learn lessons — and, hopefully, actually fly someone into space — under a bill being sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

That’s the word from SpaceNews, which says it has obtained a draft of the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act set for markup on May 20 by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. The measure would extend restrictions on the Federal Aviation Administration’s authority to regulate the still nascent industry until 2020.

The limits were first put in place in 2004, then extended for three years in 2012. They are due to expire on Sept. 30.

George Nield, who heads up the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, said six months before the fatal SpaceShipTwo crash last year that he wants the quasi-moratorium to end in September. He said that there are safety regulations that can be formulated based on 50 years of human spaceflight. He added that without some basic regulations, irresponsible companies with poor safety practices can enter the industry.

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Spaceport America Spending Criticized

Spaceport America fly-in. (Credit: NMSA)

Spaceport America fly-in. (Credit: NMSA)

KRQE News has looked into how the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) is spending money on Spaceport America — and it’s not pretty.

The authority is paying $2.9 million annually to a company to provide state-of-the-art fire protection to the largely empty spaceport — which is used for the occasional sounding rocket launch and television commercial.

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NTSB Looks at Human Factors as Virgin Expresses Confidence in Engine

WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo on the tarmac on Wednesday, July 23, 2014. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo on the tarmac on July 23, 2014. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Over at The Space Review, Jeff Foust has an excellent update on Antares and SpaceShipTwo six months after they both crashed within days of each other at the end of October. There are a couple of interesting things worth pointing out on the SpaceShipTwo failure.

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