Tag: virgin galactic

OneWeb Signs Contract for 39 Virgin Galactic LauncherOne Flights

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

OneWeb constellation. (Credit: Airbus Defence & Space)

OneWeb constellation. (Credit: Airbus Defence & Space)


  • 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

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

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


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


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

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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BBC Newsnight Story on Virgin Galactic


BBC Newsnight story about Virgin Galactic in which I am interviewed.

There’s also a story by correspondent Mark Urban.  I’m misquoted in the story; there’s been about $600 million  spent on the program as of November, including $390 by the government of Abu Dhabi through Aabar Investments. The story says the Aabar funding is in addition to the $600 million.

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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My Upcoming Talk at ISU-USA Space Cafe in Washington DC


The International Space University-US Alumni Association’s Washington, DC Chapter presents monthly Space Cafes!  These events bring together prominent experts on space, ISU alumni, the space community, and the interested public in a casual forum that encourages interaction and discussion.

This month’s speaker will be Douglas Messier, managing editor of parabolicarc.com, who will provide an overview of Mojave space activities and discuss the SpaceShipTwo accident.

Please join us on Tuesday, June 2nd at 7 pm to hear what Doug has to say and add your voice to the discussion.  The Space Cafes are hosted by the Science Club, located at 1136 19th Street, NW, Washington, DC on the second floor:  http://www.ScienceClubDC.com/.

There’s no need to RSVP, but if you have questions or suggestions for future speakers, please feel free to contact me at angela.peura@gmail.com.

We’d like to thank the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ National Capital Section for their co-sponsorship of Space Café – we look forward to their participation in this and future events!

See you there!