Although Virgin Galactic has yet to fly anywhere close to space, it has managed to inspire any number of promotional videos about just how awesome the space tourism trips will be someday. Here’s the latest one from Land Rover, which was announced as a global sponsor earlier this week.
SPARKS, Nev., April 15, 2014 (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) President, Eren Ozmen, proudly announced that Fast Company magazine ranked SNC as one of the “World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Space.”
Fast Company recognized SNC for “resurrecting the spaceplane” calling SNC’s Dream Chaser® spacecraft the, “…biggest contribution to the nascent commercial spaceflight industry” and the “…smaller, and arguably smarter take on the defunct Space Shuttle.”
In a world first for a frequent flyer program, Velocity is offering members the ultimate upgrade to ‘Space Class’. This is an exclusive seat on board SpaceShipTwo, the world’s first commercial spaceline with Virgin Galactic and certified astronaut status.
To be eligible*, simply register your Velocity membership number and tell us what you would do for an upgrade to Space Class between 14 April and 30 June 2014 (inclusive) and fly Virgin Australia between 1 May and 30 June (inclusive).
The eligible entrant with the most creative response to the question below will be awarded the Space Class Upgrade.
Below is a summary of their comments that provides some insights into where each partner is in development and what lies ahead for the rest of the year.
NASA is expected to award the next round of commercial crew contracts later this year.
That’s the question this week as Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides revealed that Sir Richard Branson’s space tourism company is in talks with Mubadala Development Company about a possible supplier relationship.
Mubadala, which is a wholly-owned investment vehicle for Abu Dhabi’s government, owns Mubadala Aerospace, which manufactures and supplies parts for commercial jets built by Boeing and Airbus.
Asked if Mubadala could supply parts or build any part of Virgin Galactic’s commercial spacecraft fleet, Whitesides said, “We’ve had good conversations with Mubadala and other stakeholders in the UAE and we will see where those conversations go.”
However, he added that he “won’t get into the details of those discussions.”
The Abu Dhabi government has invested $390 million in Virgin Galactic through Aabar Investments, which it also owns. Aabar holds a 37.8% share in Virgin Galactic.
After a couple of months inside the hangar undergoing modifications, SpaceShipTwo is outside on the ramp today at the Mojave Air & Space Port in California.
Scaled Composites engineers are running the suborbital space plane through pressure tests on the cockpit, according to sources. The vehicle does not have an engine installed.
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo last flew under power on Jan. 10, completing a 20-second burn of its hybrid nitrous oxide-rubber engine and reached an altitude of 71,000 feet. The ship flew again in an un-powered glide flight one week later before going into the hangar for changes.
By Douglas Messier
Plans for a visitor’s center at Spaceport America have continued to shrink due to a lack of funding and revenues. And that could pose significant risks to New Mexico’s plans to boost the local economy by attracting more than 200,000 visitors to the remote facility where Virgin Galactic plans to launch tourists into space.
In fact, the New Mexico Spaceport Authority appears to be going down the very path that its own Strategic Business Plan warns will result in a poor visitor experience and fewer tourists paying money to see the high-tech spaceport.
Over a BuzzFeed, writer Joshua Wheeler travels to the hardscrabble town of Truth or Consequences, N.M., whose residents are waiting for Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic to begin space tourism flights from nearby Spaceport America, possibly by the end of this year.
Wheeler asks whether the town is ready for the influx of high net worth individuals, and whether they will bring the benefits to Truth or Consequences and the rest of Southern New Mexico that were promised when state officials sold the $218 million taxpayer-funded project to residents.
The answer to the first question is a definite “No.” Truth or Consequences remains as dilapidated as ever, with few plans and little money to spruce itself up for Virgin Galactic’s millionaire clientele. This likely means it will lose out to the larger, more developed city of Las Cruces in terms of benefits.
As for the second question, Wheeler says that remains to be seen. He sees great irony that one of the poorest states in the country has spent nearly a quarter building dollars to finance the dream of a British billionaire who will be catering to fellow members of the 1 percent.
FYI: There is no truth to reports about us buying land or renting hangars in Puerto Rico (though we’re sure it’s lovely there)”
— Virgin Galactic (@virgingalactic) March 10, 2014