Tag: virgin galactic

Virgin Galactic Focused on Larger Satellite Launch Vehicle

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Artist's conception of WhiteKnightTwo with LauncherOne (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Artist’s conception of WhiteKnightTwo with LauncherOne (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Virgin Galactic is developing a rocket more powerful than LauncherOne to fulfill a recent order for 39 launches from its global satellite Internet partner OneWeb, according to sources familiar with the program.

LauncherTwo will use Virgin Galactic’s largest liquid fuel engine, NewtonThree, in its first stage, according to sources that insisted upon anonymity. A new engine, NewtonFour, will be developed for the second stage.

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Spaceport America Plays Guessing Game as Virgin Galactic Awaits NTSB Report

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The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space building with a security fence around it. (Credit: Alex Heard)

The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space building with a security fence around it. (Credit: Alex Heard)

The guessing game was being played again last week in New Mexico, when nobody seems to know when Virgin Galactic will begin commercial spaceflights from the state’s gleaming but little used Spaceport America.

“Our assumption is that they wouldn’t begin commercial flights with passengers until July 2016,” [Executive Director Christine] Anderson said in an interview. “That’s just an assumption. It doesn’t mean I know any more than anyone else, but it means that I had to base my budget on something.”

Well, fair enough. I guess she has to base the budget on something. It would be nice if that something was a little more realistic. A July start doesn’t appear to be so at the moment.

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Southern Road Hits Snag as Spaceport America Seeks More Tenants

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The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space building with a security fence around it. (Credit: Alex Heard)

The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space building with a security fence around it. (Credit: Alex Heard)

A couple of updates on Spaceport America.

Southern Road Project Delayed:  A project aimed at turning a 24-mile dirt road to Spaceport America into a “quasi-paved surface” has hit a snag that will delay the project by two to three months. There has been a mismatch between the corridor proposed for the southern road and an environmental review conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Bill Childress, regional BLM director, said the study examined a route originally specified by the county for the proposed road upgrades. But “when we got the final engineering documents from the county, it didn’t match the documents,” Childress said. “We had to inform the county of that.”

Childress said the route distance that didn’t align was “less than a mile,” mainly in one particular location. The route in the engineering plans was offset from that examined in the environmental study by a distance of about “20 to 30 feet.”

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OneWeb Signs Contract for 39 Virgin Galactic LauncherOne Flights

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Artist's conception of WhiteKnightTwo with LauncherOne (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Artist’s conception of WhiteKnightTwo with LauncherOne (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

LONG BEACH, Calif., June 25, 2015 (OneWeb PR) – Virgin Galactic, the privately-funded space company owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s Aabar Investments PJS, has signed a contract with OneWeb Ltd. to serve as one of its inaugural satellite launch providers. Under the terms of the Launch Services Agreement, Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne rocket will perform 39 satellite launches for OneWeb—one of the largest commercial procurements of launches in history. Beyond the firm contract, the agreement provides OneWeb with options for 100 additional launches.
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One Web Announces $500 Million Funding Round, Launch Contracts for Soyuz, LauncherOne

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OneWeb constellation. (Credit: Airbus Defence & Space)

OneWeb constellation. (Credit: Airbus Defence & Space)

Highlights

  • OneWeb announces $500 million funding round for 900 satellite constellation
  • Backers include Airbus Group, Coca-Cola, Intelsat, Qualcomm, Hughes Network Systems and Virgin Galactic
  • Largest commercial rocket order ever includes 21 Soyuz launchers and 39 launches of Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne

LONDON (OneWeb PR) — OneWeb, which is building a new global communications system to create affordable broadband services for all, today announces it has raised $500 million of funding from a group of leading international companies.

OneWeb has attracted investment from Airbus Group, Bharti Enterprises, Hughes Network Systems, (Hughes), a subsidiary of EchoStar Corp., Intelsat, Qualcomm Incorporated, The Coca-Cola Company, the Virgin Group, and Totalplay, a Grupo Salinas Company, owned by Ricardo B. Salinas.

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New Spaceport America Tour Opens

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Spaceport America fly-in. (Credit: NMSA)

Spaceport America fly-in. (Credit: NMSA)

SPACEPORT AMERICA, NM, June 24, 2015 (NMSA PR) – Spaceport America – the world’s first purpose-built, commercial spaceport announced today the new Spaceport America Experience tour is open for visitors.

Guests gathered to create a celebratory atmosphere in the street outside the new Spaceport America Visitor Center located in the historic hot-springs district of the City of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

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Branson: Virgin Galactic Costing Lots of Money

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Richard Branson speaks to the press at the Mojave Air and Space Port about the crash off SpaceShipTwo. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Richard Branson speaks to the press at the Mojave Air and Space Port about the crash off SpaceShipTwo. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Richard Branson has suggested that Virgin Galactic’s burn rate is $14 million per month (according to an interview with The Independent) or $15 million or month (according to The Express). That would put annual expenses at between $168 and $180 million.

If that’s the burn rate, it will go up quite a bit when flight testing resumes on SpaceShipTwo. Powered flights of the vehicle are reported to cost close to $1 million apiece.

Branson also says he’s trying to raise $400 million for OneWeb, the global satellite Internet program headed by Greg Wyler.  The Virgin Group is an investor in the company and plans to launch a portion of the 900 plus satellites in the constellation with its LauncherOne rocket.

Meet the Virgin Galactic Pilots

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Video Caption: An introduction to our Pilot Corps, narrated by Virgin Galactic’s Chief Pilot, Dave Mackay, including behind the scenes shots of our Spaceship factory.

Videos: SpaceShipTwo Cockpit Nearly Hit Two Truck Drivers

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Following the tragic death of Mike Alsbury in the crash of SpaceShipTwo in October, it was said that  the FAA’s mandate to protect the uninvolved public from harm had been kept. The debris had not injured or killed anyone on the ground.

It was a very near thing, as these two videos I recorded right after the crash demonstrate. Two trucks drivers going in opposite directions were nearly hit by SpaceShipTwo’s cockpit when it slammed into Cantil Road. This was where Alsbury’s body came to rest.

SpaceShipTwo was dropped over the Koehn Lake area because of its low population density. However, the area was unusually crowded because of road construction. The reason we found the cockpit’s impact site is that the Redrock Randsburg Road was being worked on. The site was on the detour route as we tried to reach the site of the largest piece of debris, which had come down on the edge of the lake bed.

The spot where SpaceShipTwo's cockpit crashed. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

The spot where SpaceShipTwo’s cockpit crashed. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Apologies for the poor camera work. I was working with a camera with a back display that was hard to see in the bright sunlight.

New Mexico Has Lengthy Wait for Commercial SpaceShipTwo Flights

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The second SpaceShipTwo under construction. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

The second SpaceShipTwo under construction. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

BBC Transport Correspondent trekked out to Mojave to pay a visit to Virgin Galactic. He found the second SpaceShipTwo — which the company had planned to complete by April — still a long way from being airworthy and CEO George Whitesides reluctant to make predictions.

Then we spar over flight dates. In the end, the best I could get was that paying customers could be up within 18 months to two years, maybe sooner, but not much longer, so not five years, for example….

Virgin have been building a new spaceship since 2012, tucked away in a shiny hangar being battered by the desert wind. They showed us how it’s coming along.
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