Tag: SpaceShipTwo

Video: Branson Comments on SpaceShipTwo Accident, Talks Future

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Editor’s Note: The number of engineers working on the project seems to have shrunk from 400 or more down to 350. Branson also makes a few questionable assertions in the video. Rather than me pointing them out, see if you can spot them.

Paris Match has the full interview here (in French).

What Scaled, Virgin & Peter Diamandis Said After Last Fatal SpaceShipTwo Program Accident

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Part of SpaceShipTwo's fuselage. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

Part of SpaceShipTwo’s fuselage. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The crash of SpaceShipTwo and the tragic loss of Scaled Composites test pilot Mike Alsbury were stark reminders that despite all the promises about the safety of new space tourism vehicles, space travel is a dangerous business where death can come in seconds.

If outsiders were stunned by the tragedy, it had a sickeningly familiar feel to long-time Mojave denizens. Mike Alsbury was not the first Scaled employee to die developing SpaceShipTwo for Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spaceline. He was the fourth. Three engineers preceded him seven years earlier in a horrific accident at the Mojave spaceport.

The  2007 tragedy was quite different from the one that occurred over Jawbone Canyon on Halloween. The response to it was both different and eerily familiar.

Continue reading ‘What Scaled, Virgin & Peter Diamandis Said After Last Fatal SpaceShipTwo Program Accident’

BBC Radio 4 Program About Virgin Galactic

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SpaceShipTwo disintegrates as its two tail booms fall away. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

SpaceShipTwo disintegrates as its two tail booms fall away. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

BBC Radio 4’s The Report broadcast an excellent half hour program on the SpaceShipTwo accident on Thursday. I was featured on the program along with other sources.

You can listen to the program(me) here.

Program Description: “The fatal explosion of a Virgin Galactic space plane at the end of October 2014 was a major set-back to Sir Richard Branson’s dream of a flourishing space tourism venture. Lesley Curwen tells the story behind the crash and asks whether the highly lucrative Virgin brand will survive the tragedy.”

Land Rover to Offer Alternative Prizes in Galactic Discovery Competition

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First Discovery Sport rolls off the assembly line. (Cedit: Land Rover)

First Discovery Sport rolls off the assembly line. (Credit: Land Rover)

Land Rover will offer alternative prizes to the winners of the Galactic Discovery competition following the loss of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo last month. The global winner would have earned a flight into space aboard SpaceShipTwo for himself and three friends.

Land Rover has published the following statement on its website (emphasis added):

Following the tragic accident involving Virgin Galactic’s test flight we have taken the decision to close the Galactic Discovery competition to new entries. The thoughts of everyone at Land Rover are with our friends at Virgin Galactic and test flight partner Scaled Composites.

All entries received up to and including October 31st, 2014 will go through the judging process as planned, and one winner will be selected from each participating market (the National Prize winners), followed by an overall global winner (the Bonus Prize winner).

In these exceptional circumstances, and in line with the competition terms and conditions, we will be offering an alternative prize to the global winner and, in some cases, to the national winners. You have our commitment that all prize winners will receive an amazing and memorable Land Rover experience, the details of which will be confirmed before December 2nd.

Thank you for your understanding,
The Land Rover team

Meanwhile, Virgin Galactic and Land Rover logos have been removed from the doors of six Land Rovers that Virgin Galactic has been using at its headquarters in Mojave, Calif.

Land Rover is still listed as an official Virgin Galactic brand partner on the spaceline’s website.

Bill Whittle Discusses SpaceShipTwo Tragedy

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Video Caption: There’s a demon in the skies over the Mojave Desert, and it’s taken another life and another vehicle. In his latest Firewall, Bill Whittle draws on his experience as a pilot to help unravel the psychology of the presumed pilot error behind the crash of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo.

Space Access Society Update #137

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space_access_logo
Space Access Update #137
  11/24/14
Copyright 2014 by Space Access Society
__________________________________________

In this Issue:

         Maintaining An Even Strain

         Commercial Crew Followup

         Booster & Engine Developments

         Space Access ’15 Conference, April 2015

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Maintaining An Even Strain

Many times over the years, we’ve gotten feedback to the effect that “things are going so well for this new industry, don’t you think it’s time to declare victory and move on?”

Oddly enough, none of those times was during this last month. The spectacular loss of two different commercial space vehicles in quick succession now has some questioning the viability of the entire commercial space industry.

Continue reading ‘Space Access Society Update #137′

Sierra Nevada Shuts Down Poway, Lays Off More Than 100

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Dream Chaser hybrid motor test firing. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Dream Chaser hybrid motor test firing. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Sources report that Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has shut down its rocket engine test facility in Poway, Calif., where the company has tested propulsion systems for the Dream Chaser space shuttle and Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle.

The company laid off more than 100 employees last week, including around 70 in Poway with the rest in Colorado, sources report.

Sierra Nevada lost out on two big contracts this year. In May, Virgin Galactic announced it was switching from SNC’s rubber hybrid to a nylon hybrid engine developed by Scaled Composites to power SpaceShipTwo. The rubber hybrid had been tested down in Poway.

In September, SNC lost out on the next round of NASA Commercial Crew Program contracts when the space agency selected Boeing and SpaceX to develop vehicles to fly to the International Space Station. SNC’s Dream Chaser shuttle was not selected.

SNC has appealed the decision. The Government Accountability Office has until early January to make a decision on the appeal.

Branson Backs Virgin Galactic Boss George Whitesides

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Geroge Whitesides addresses the crowd during the dedication of Spaceport America's runway.

Geroge Whitesides addresses the crowd during the dedication of Spaceport America’s runway.

In an opinion piece, Richard Branson heaps great praise upon the leadership of Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides. [Richard Branson | Solidarity in a time of crisis]

We are fortunate at Galactic to have an extraordinary leader in chief executive officer George Whitesides. His calm, compassion and determination should be a model for any aspiring chief executive; Virgin Galactic’s unwavering focus and culture of teamwork, which George has helped to foster, are the foundations of any strong business.

Continue reading ‘Branson Backs Virgin Galactic Boss George Whitesides’

Rutan: Pilot Error Most Likely Cause of SpaceShipTwo Crash

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Sir Richard Branson hugs designer Burt Rutan as they are surrounded by employee's of Virgin Galactic, The SpaceShip Company and Scaled Composites watch as Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip2 streaks across the sky under rocket power, its first ever since the program began in 2005. Burt's wife Tonya Rutan is at right taking their photo. The spacecraft was dropped from its "mothership", WhiteKnightTwo over the Mojave, CA area, April 29, 2013 at high altitude before firing its hybrid power motor. (Credit: Mark Greenberg)

Sir Richard Branson hugs designer Burt Rutan as they are surrounded by employee’s of Virgin Galactic, The SpaceShip Company and Scaled Composites watch as Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShip2 streaks across the sky under rocket power, its first ever since the program began in 2005. Burt’s wife Tonya Rutan is at right taking their photo. The spacecraft was dropped from its “mothership”, WhiteKnightTwo over the Mojave, CA area, April 29, 2013 at high altitude before firing its hybrid power motor. (Credit: Mark Greenberg)

The Tribune talks to Burt Rutan about the fatal crash of SpaceShipTwo:

Investigators reportedly believe that the test pilot who died in the crash, 39-year-old Mike Alsbury, may have committed an error by unlocking a lever on the craft’s “feathering system” too early. The system is designed to create drag as the space ship descends. Pilot Peter Siebold, 43, parachuted down and suffered injuries.

“We had a fatal accident with a manned spaceship where there was nothing wrong with the spaceship,” Rutan said. “I hope it doesn’t put a damper on things. … This is a blossoming industry.”Rutan said the only thing that makes sense to him about the accident is that during an anxious period, Alsbury may have distractedly performed the task.

“During moments of stress combined with fear, pilots can have a kind of unconscious muscle memory,” Rutan said. “They can do tasks before they’re supposed to. That’s the only thing that makes sense to me.”

Read the full story.

NM Legislators Unimpressed With Anderson’s Presentation on Spaceport America

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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)

A legislative hearing on Spaceport America on Thursday apparently didn’t go very well:

Members of a legislative finance oversight committee grilled spaceport Executive Director Christine Anderson after she handed them a presentation filled mostly with photographs.

Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, of Gallup, the committee’s vice-chairwoman, questioned the business plan and said the point of the meeting was to go over hard numbers and cover how the state should move forward.

Continue reading ‘NM Legislators Unimpressed With Anderson’s Presentation on Spaceport America’