Tag: virgin galactic

Obama Signs Law to Prevent Encroachments on Nation’s Spaceports

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President Barack Obama has signed into law a measure that will help the nation’s growing legion of spaceports fight the encroachment of obstacles such as transmission lines that could endanger suborbital spacecraft.

The measure, sponsored by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), was inspired by a problem experienced by the Mojave Air and Space Port, which is in the Congressman’s district. A utility company built extra tall transmission towers near the airport, sparking safety concerns among officials there.

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Photos Gallery: SpaceShipTwo Unity’s First Glide Flight

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Richard Branson addresses the crowd before SpaceShipTwo's glide flight. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

Richard Branson addresses the crowd before SpaceShipTwo’s glide flight. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

SpaceShipTwo glides over the Mojave Desert after being released from its WhiteKnightTwo mother ship. (Credit; Virgin Galactic)

SpaceShipTwo glides over the Mojave Desert after being released from its WhiteKnightTwo mother ship. (Credit; Virgin Galactic)

SpaceShipTwo glides to a landing at Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

SpaceShipTwo glides to a landing at Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

SpaceShipTwo glides through the Mojave sky followed by an Extra chase plane. (Credit; Ken Brown)

SpaceShipTwo glides through the Mojave sky followed by an Extra chase plane. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

SpaceShipTwo comes in for a landing at the Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

SpaceShipTwo comes in for a landing at the Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

SpaceShipTwo rolls to a stop on the runway at the Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

SpaceShipTwo rolls to a stop on the runway at the Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

Richard Branson and George Whitesides gaze out at SpaceShipTwo after it came to a stop on Runway 12. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Richard Branson and George Whitesides gave out at SpaceShipTwo after it came to a stop on Runway 12. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Richard Branson moves to embrace SpaceShipTwo pilots David Mackay and Mark Stucky. To Branson's right in Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

Richard Branson moves to embrace SpaceShipTwo pilots David Mackay and Mark Stucky. To Branson’s right is Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

Richard Branson (l) and George Whitesides (r) walk with SpaceShipTwo pilots David Mackay and Mark Stucky after a successful glide flight. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

Richard Branson (l) and George Whitesides (r) walk with SpaceShipTwo pilots David Mackay and Mark Stucky after a successful glide flight. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

SpaceShipTwo being towed back to Virgin Galactic's FAITH hangar after a successful glide flight. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

SpaceShipTwo being towed back to Virgin Galactic’s FAITH hangar after a successful glide flight. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

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Video: A Festive Atmosphere in Mojave Before SpaceShipTwo Glide Flight

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Recorded at the base of the Mojave Air & Space Port’s control tower about 10 minutes before the drop of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Unity from its WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft.

It was a festive atmosphere as Sir Richard Branson joined employees of Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company and their families to watch the flight test.

This was the first flight test of a SpaceShipTwo in more than two years since the first spacecraft broke up during a flight test on Halloween 2014. Virgin Galactic will conduct a series of these tests before moving on to powered flights sometime in 2017.

Keep up with Virgin Galactic and all the latest space news at http://www.parabolicarc.com and http://www.twitter.com/spacecom.

SpaceShipTwo Glide Flight Scheduled for This Morning

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Good morning from Mojave!

We’re hearing that Virgin Galactic will attempt a glide flight of the SpaceShipTwo Unity later this morning. A Saturday flight test is fairly rare for Mojave.

We also hear that a special guest have ventured all the way from the Caribbean to witness the test. Dress warmly, Richie; it’s 28 F (-2 C) out there.

Ken Brown and I will be out covering the test. I will be tweeting it at http://www.twitter.com/spacecom.

The flight comes just over two years and one month after the destruction of the first SpaceShipTwo Enterprise during its fourth powered flight test. The accident killed Scaled Composites test pilot Mike Alsbury.

The second SpaceShipTwo has made four captive carry flights, one in September and three in November. Two of the November flights were scrubbed drop tests, the first on Nov. 1 due to weather and the second two days later due to an unspecified technical problem.

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WhiteKnightTwo & SpaceShipTwo Conduct Fourth Captive Carry

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The second SpaceShipTwo is carried aloft by WhiteKnightTwo on its first captive carry flight. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

The second SpaceShipTwo is carried aloft by WhiteKnightTwo on its first captive carry flight. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo were back in the sky over Mojave on Wednesday for a captive carry flight of about 2.5 hours.  It was a rare afternoon flight test for the vehicles, which are usually flown in the morning.

Virgin Galactic tweeted that the company had made a few tweaks in the spaceship. Richard Branson’s space line did not provide a schedule for the next flight.

The flight test came nearly three months after the pair’s first captive carry on Sept. 8. Virgin Galactic attempted to perform glide flights on Nov. 1 and Nov. 3. The first was canceled after takeoff by high winds at the Mojave Air and Space Port landing site. The second was scrubbed just prior to release by an unspecified technical problem.

GAO Review Recommends FAA Review of Space Support Vehicle Regulations

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F-104's in flight. (Credit: Starfighters Aerospace)

F-104’s in flight. (Credit: Starfighters Aerospace)

A review by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has recommended the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) conduct a review of its regulations for space support vehicles used to train space tourists and  conduct reduced gravity experiments.

“The Secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOT) should direct the FAA Administrator to fully examine and document whether the FAA’s current regulatory framework is appropriate for space support vehicles and, if not, suggest legislative or regulatory changes, or both, as applicable,” the report states.

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Video: Branson Says Space Tourism Competition Good

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Virgin Galactic Outlines SpaceShipTwo Flight Test Program

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Credit: Virgin Galactic

Credit: Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic has published a blog post outlining the upcoming series of glide flights.

These flights will cumulatively allow us to test and prove the performance of the vehicle in a variety of conditions: both heavy (e.g. simulating the full weight of a load of fuel, oxidizer, and people) and light (with empty tanks) and in between, at a variety of flight path angles and airspeeds, and so forth.

This testing of the “corners of the box” is designed to demonstrate how VSS Unity will perform as it returns from space, after the feather system is retracted and the vehicle becomes a glider and lands on the runway like an airplane. In addition, this phase of flight will also demonstrate and test our abort modes – which culminate in a safe glide back to the runway.

Our first glide flight will be focused on testing the fundamental performance and handling qualities of VSS Unity. For this first test, we will keep the vehicle at a light weight and will place a “speed limit” on the pilots (Mach 0.6). Once we analyze the results from this test, we will be cleared to go faster on subsequent tests.

Read the full post.

A Halloween Nightmare in Mojave

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It was raining in the desert. It was coming down in buckets.

A cold, hard rain was slamming against the windows of the house. The first real rain since….I couldn’t even remember. That’s how rare rain is out here. Months and months go by with little or no rainfall.

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SpaceShipTwo Drop Test Set for Tuesday

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SpaceShipTwo glides toward a landing with its chase plane close behind at lower right. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

SpaceShipTwo glides toward a landing with its chase plane close behind at lower right. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Virgin Galactic plans to conduct the first glide test of the second SpaceShipTwo on Tuesday, Nov. 1. It will be the first flight of the spaceship and its WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft since a captive carry test on Sept. 8.

The flight, which will take place from the Mojave Air and Space Port, will come two years and 1 day after the first SpaceShipTwo broke up during a powered test flight, killing Scaled Composites pilot Mike Alsbury and injuring pilot Pete Siebold.

Virgin Galactic pilot C.J. Sturckow confirmed the date of the flight test during an event on Saturday at the Explorers Club in New York City, according to SpaceNews reporter Jeff Foust.

Sturckow told attendees Virgin Galactic plans “‘spot check’ the glide flight envelope of SS2 and move into powered flight tests in early 2017,” according to a tweet posted by Foust.

Virgin Galactic Sues Firefly, Officers for Alleged Misappropriation of Trade Secrets

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firefly_space_systems_logoEarlier this month, Virgin Galactic filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Firefly Systems and two of its officers, Michael Blum and P.J. King, alleging misappropriation of trade secrets and unfair competition.

The lawsuit is related to arbitration between Virgin Galactic and the company’s former vice president of propulsion, Thomas Markusic. Virgin alleges Markusic took trade secrets and confidential information with him when he left his position at the end of 2013 to co-found Firefly with Blum and King.

The lawsuit alleges that Firefly, Blum and King benefited from knowledge that Markusic took with him from Virgin Galactic. Markusic and the defendants have denied the claims.

Firefly laid off all of its employees at the end of September, saying the company had run out of money after an investor pulled out.

Firefly was developing a small satellite launcher, Firefly Alpha, that would have competed for business with the LauncherOne booster that Virgin Galactic is developing.

A Closer Look at LauncherOne

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Virgin Galactic’s service guide for LauncherOne has some interesting details about the air-launch service. The service’s main base will be Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The 747 Cosmic Girl aircraft will fly over the Pacific Ocean and launch satellites into sun-synchronous orbits.

Other operating locations include the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) at the NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida and the NASA Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) in Virginia. The aircraft also can fly from additional locations at customer request.

launcherone_payload_dynamic

LauncherOne’s payload capabilities include:

  • Up to 300 kg / 661 lbm to 500 km/270 nmi SSO
  • Up to 500 kg / 1100 lbm to 200 km/108 nmi circular 28.5 degree inclination Low Earth Orbit

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The booster’s launch altitudes and inclinations include:

  • Up to 1000 km and greater depending upon payload and inclination
  • Mojave Air and Space Port: 60 to 102 degrees inclination
  • Shuttle Landing Facility: 28.5 to 55 degrees inclination
  • NASA Wallops Flight Facility: 37 to 60 degrees inclination

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Program Updates from ISPCS

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The second SpaceShipTwo is carried aloft by WhiteKnightTwo on its first captive carry flight. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

The second SpaceShipTwo is carried aloft by WhiteKnightTwo on its first captive carry flight. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

NASA and various commercial companies gave updates on their programs during the International Symposium on Commercial and Personal Spaceflight this week in Las Cruces, NM.

What follows are summaries that include:

  • suborbital programs (Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin)
  • commercial cargo (SpaceX, Sierra Nevada Corporation)
  • commercial crew (NASA, Boeing, ULA).

The summaries are based on Twitter posts from attendees. A big thanks to Thanks to Tanya Harrison (‏@tanyaofmars), Frank Slazer ‏(@FSlazer), Jeff Foust (‏@jeff_foust), Michael Simpson ‏(@SpaceSharer), and Melissa Sampson (‏@DrSampson) for the coverage.

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Virgin Galactic Promotes Mike Moses to President

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Michael Moses

Michael Moses

LAS CRUCES, NM, October 13, 2016 (Virgin Galactic PR) – Virgin Galactic, the privately funded space company owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s Aabar Investments PJS, is pleased to announce the promotion of Michael P. Moses to President. Moses, who joined Virgin Galactic in 2011 as Vice President of Operations, will now oversee Virgin Galactic’s human spaceflight program, reporting directly to Virgin Galactic CEO George T. Whitesides.

Mike joined Virgin Galactic after a decorated career at NASA, where he served as a flight controller, Flight Director, and ultimately as the Space Shuttle Launch Integration Manager. In that role, he led all space shuttle operations from landing through launch for the final dozen flights of NASA’s space shuttle program. For his services, Mike was twice recognized with the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, one of the space agency’s most prestigious medals. Mike has also received both the Distinguished Science Alumni and the Outstanding Aerospace Engineer awards from Purdue University, among many other commendations.

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A Note to Readers….

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mojave_tower_sunset_smHi everybody.

As I had previously disclosed, I was working on a book project about XCOR Aerospace. That is no longer the case. I have therefore taken the disclosure statement down from the website.

The end of the book project had several causes. One is that progress on the Lynx at XCOR was extraordinarily slow over the years I’ve been here in Mojave. It was hard coming up with a narrative given the way things were going. Ever watched a desert tortoise move? It was a lot like that. If you haven’t, trust me. They’re very s-l-o-o-w-w.

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