Tag: SpaceShipTwo

BREAKING NEWS: Jim Tighe to Depart Scaled Composites — UPDATED

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

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

Updated with statement from Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The chief aerodynamicist credited with designing SpaceShipTwo is departing the program on the eve of a crucial series of flight tests designed that Virgin Galactic hopes will lead to the start of commercial suborbital space tourism operations early next year.

Multiple sources have confirmed that Jim Tighe announced on Thursday that he would be leaving his position as chief aerodynamicist at Scaled Composites in two weeks for a job at an unnamed aerospace company. It is not clear what prompted the move.

Update: Reports indicate Tighe will be working for an aviation start-up based in Silicon Valley.

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Branson Says First Flight From New Mexico in February or March

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In this clip from “The Late Show With David Letterman,” Virgin Galactic Founder Richard Branson says he will be on the first flight of SpaceShipTwo from New Mexico in February or March 2015.

Mojave Watch: Suborbital Space Planes Prep for Flights

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Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Here’s some Saturday morning reading for all of you on suborbital vehicles now being assembled and tested here in Mojave:

  • P.J. O’Rourke has an entertaining account of his recent visit to visit XCOR, where he likes what he finds;
  • Private Eye takes a look at 15 years worth of unfulfilled promises by Richard Branson to send tourists to space; and,
  • Pat Hynes believes that regular flights of Branson’s SpaceShipTwo from Spaceport America in New Mexico are, at best, about a year away.

Up to a Point: A ‘Space Corvette’ in Every Garage
The Daily Beast

“The Lynx’s 30-foot fuselage and 24-foot wingspan would fit in a McMansion garage. And it’s as prettier than anything a rich car collector has in there now.”

Beam us up, Beardie!
Private Eye

“WHEN will Sir Richard Branson launch himself into space? ‘What people forget is that it is rocket science,’ he quipped in February. ‘It is complicated. But now every box has been ticked and we’re nearly there.’ Er, how nearly? ‘We have a launch date this summer… By September, I hope to have gone to space.’

“September is upon us, so presumably Beardie Lightyear is now aboard his rocket, preparing to slip the surly bonds of earth with a cry of ‘To infinity and beyond!’ Or, on past form, perhaps not…”

Private space taking shape: Virgin Galactic delays not fatal
Las Cruces Bulletin

“Creating a time line based on past tests of the of its spaceliner, Hynes said a more realistic time line to expect seeing Spaceport America become a frequent destination for those who have $200,000 to $250,000 to spare for a thrill ride is, at best, a year away.

“’That means we can prepare,’ she said. ‘We have time.’”

Promotional Video for Land Rover’s Win a Trip to Space Contest

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Video Caption: This is your chance to go on the ultimate adventure. You and your friends could win a trip to space on a Virgin Galactic commercial flight, courtesy of Land Rover.

Editor’s Note: It’s interesting the competition has one winner and three friends. This is what sources tell me that capacity has been reduced to in the passenger cabin due to changes to SpaceShipTwo. Nobody has acknowledged this officially, but this is a clue that the reports are true.

On a related note, it’s good to see Spaceport America finally being used for something other than the occasional sounding rocket launch. The place has a definite future for cool commercials.

Win a Trip to Space With Land Rover

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SpaceShipTwo on final approach during a glide flight on Jan. 17, 2014. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

SpaceShipTwo on final approach during a glide flight on Jan. 17, 2014. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Land Rover Press Release

Today Land Rover unveiled the 2015 Discovery Sport, the brand’s new premium compact SUV and first of the new Discovery family of vehicles, in a video hosted on LandRoverUSA.com. The new Discovery Sport debut video, shot at Spaceport America, New Mexico, was released in conjunction with the announcement of the Land Rover “Galactic Discovery” competition, offering groups of aspiring astronauts a chance to win a once-in-a-lifetime trip to space with three friends for the ultimate adventure.
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SpaceShipTwo Conducts Successful Glide Flight

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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.

Book Review: Safe is Not An Option

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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.

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Attenborough Sez: Virgin Galactic Just Like Virgin Trains

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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.

Video Highlights California Aerospace Manufacturing

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Video Caption: This video is a project by the Centers for Applied Competitive Technologies (CACT): http://www.makingitincalifornia.com

The CACT is part of the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, Economic & Workforce Development program: http://www.cccewd.net/

This video was produced by melodysheep:
http://www.youtube.com/user/melodysheep

SNC Abandons Own Hybrid Motors on Dream Chaser

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Dream Chaser Main Propulsion System Test. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Dream Chaser Main Propulsion System Test. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Sierra Nevada Corporation won’t be using its own hybrid rockets for its Dream Chaser space shuttle, making it the second company in recent months after Virgin Galactic to dump the nitrous oxide-rubber motors.

Kathy Lueders, program manager for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP), revealed the change in an update during the third quarterly meeting of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) on July 24.

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