Tag: virgin galactic

A Closer Look at the UK’s Commercial Space Review

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Following the release of the document, “UK Government Review of Commercial Spaceplane Certification and Operations: Summary and Conclusions,” almost all media attention focused on one element of the report: the 8 candidate sites for the nation’s first spaceport.

This laser focus is easy to understand. The fierce, tooth-and-nail competition to land some big government project will be fun to watch. And spaceports are super cool. Well, they are when space planes are actually flying to space. When like a decade goes by with people promising imminent spaceflights without a single one taking place, spaceports become a lot less cool.  (I’m looking at you…everybody in Mojave!)

But, I digress. I went through the 80-page document and the 321-page technical report its based on so you don’t have to. Why would I do this? Because you guys are the best! You’re very welcome.

Key excerpts follow with commentary as appropriate. Read away!

Continue reading ‘A Closer Look at the UK’s Commercial Space Review’

UAE to Create Space Agency, Send Spacecraft to Mars in 2021

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UAE_Coat_of_ArmsThe United Arab Emirates plans to establish a space agency and to launch for the first Arab spacecraft to Mars by 2021 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the nation’s founding.

“The UAE Mars probe represents the Islamic world’s entry into the era of space exploration,” said President Sheikh Khalifa, according to state news agency WAM.

“We will prove that we are capable of delivering new scientific contributions to humanity.

Continue reading ‘UAE to Create Space Agency, Send Spacecraft to Mars in 2021′

Boeing, Northrop and Masten Get Funding for DARPA’s XS-1 Space Plane

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WASHINGTON (DARPA PR) — In an era of declining budgets and adversaries’ evolving capabilities, quick, affordable and routine access to space is increasingly critical for both national and economic security. Current satellite launch systems, however, require scheduling years in advance for a handful of available slots. Launches often cost hundreds of millions of dollars each, in large part to the massive amounts of dedicated infrastructure and personnel required.

DARPA created its Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program to help overcome these challenges and create a new paradigm for more routine, responsive and affordable space operations. In an important step toward that goal, DARPA has awarded prime contracts for Phase 1 of XS-1 to three companies:

  • The Boeing Company (working with Blue Origin, LLC)
  • Masten Space Systems (working with XCOR Aerospace)
  • Northrop Grumman Corporation (working with Virgin Galactic)

Continue reading ‘Boeing, Northrop and Masten Get Funding for DARPA’s XS-1 Space Plane’

Virgin Galactic Launch License on Hold While Legislative Fix is Sought

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SpaceShipTwo on final approach during a glide flight on Jan. 17, 2014. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

SpaceShipTwo on final approach during a glide flight on Jan. 17, 2014. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Virgin Galactic’s application for a launch license for SpaceShipTwo has been on hold since January while legislators in Washington attempt to fix a quirk in the Federal Aviation Administration’s regulations governing licenses and experimental permits, the company said.

The specific issue involves a provision in the law that makes an experimental permit invalid once a launch license is issued for a vehicle, according to Will Pomerantz, Virgin Galactic’s vice president for special projects. Flight testing of SpaceShipTwo and its WhiteKnightTwo mother ship is continuing at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California.

Continue reading ‘Virgin Galactic Launch License on Hold While Legislative Fix is Sought’

Virgin Galactic Selects Official Hotel in Las Cruces

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SpaceShipTwo on final approach during a glide flight on Jan. 17, 2014. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

SpaceShipTwo on final approach during a glide flight on Jan. 17, 2014. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

LAS CRUCES, NM, July 7, 2014 (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, announced today that it has awarded hospitality contracts to two local New Mexico businesses as part of its commitment to invest in the local community.

Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces and World Class Gourmet were carefully selected by Virgin Galactic to be its first official hotel and catering partners, serving the needs of its Future Astronauts who will travel to space from Spaceport America. The New Mexico community and its businesses will be integral to the on-the-ground experience and Virgin Galactic is now starting to select and work with local partners to ensure an authentic, high quality experience.

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Spaceport America Seeks Loan for Visitors Center as Road Project Progresses

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The mission control room at Spaceport America. (Credit: Alex Heard)

The mission control room at Spaceport America. (Credit: Alex Heard)

The New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) has approved borrowing $6.5 million to build a Spaceport America visitors center in Truth or Consequences. Meanwhile, Dona Ana County officials are preparing to bid out a contract to pave a southern road that leads to the remote spaceport.

However, the projects won’t measure up to the original plans for them due to funding limitations. The budget squeeze is a result of years of delay in the start of commercial operations by Spaceport America’s anchor tenant, Virgin Galactic.

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Ten Years Later, the Future Just Ain’t What It Used to Be

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WhiteKnight with SpaceShipOne on the taxiway prior to the first commercial spaceflight. I'm on the right filming. To my left, Eric Dahlstrom and Emeline Paat-Dahlstrom. (Credit: John Criswick)

WhiteKnight with SpaceShipOne on the taxiway prior to the first commercial spaceflight. I’m on the right filming. To my left, Eric Dahlstrom and Emeline Paat-Dahlstrom. (Credit: John Criswick)

Ten years ago, I was right here in Mojave — not far from where I sit writing this now — watching Mike Melvill make history. He flew Burt Rutan’s SpaceShipOne to just over 100 km, becoming the first private astronaut of the Space Age.

After gliding to a landing at the Mojave Air and Space Port, Melvill stood triumphantly atop SpaceShipOne before a cheering crowd holding a sign that one of the spectators had made that read: “SpaceShipOne Government Zero.”

Continue reading ‘Ten Years Later, the Future Just Ain’t What It Used to Be’

Video of George Whitesides Appearance on the John Batchelor Show

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A video of Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides appearance on the John Batchelor Show on Wednesday. David Livingston of The Space Show co-hosts.

Whitesides Appearance on John Batchelor Show Now Online

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The John Batchelor Show

The John Batchelor Show

Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides was on the Hotel Mars segment of the John Batchelor Show last night, which was co-hosted by David Livingston of “The Space Show.”  The segment is now archived for your listening pleasure:

http://www.thespaceshow.com/detail.asp?q=2265

George’s answers speak for themselves. Feel free to debate them below.

The appearance came a week after I had appeared on the Batchelor Show to express concerns over SpaceShipTwo’s upcoming flight test program, among other things. You can listen to that appearance here:

http://www.thespaceshow.com/detail.asp?q=2261

I also was on The Space Show on Monday, where David and I discussed Virgin Galactic and a number of other topics:

http://www.thespaceshow.com/detail.asp?q=2263

The Space Show has a blog where you can make comments on my appearance there this week:

http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com/2014/06/17/doug-messier-monday-6-16-14/

My Space Show Appearance Archived; George Whitesides to Appear on Hotel Mars

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My appearance on The Space Show on Monday has now been archived for your listening pleasure.  We talked about Virgin Galactic, events here in Mojave, and other space matters and answered some questions from listeners.

Archived Show: www.thespaceshow.com.  Scroll down to the archives in the lower half of the page.

The Space Show blog: http://thespaceshow.wordpress.com.  Here, listeners can ask questions, post comments, etc.

Meanwhile, Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides will be appearing on the Hotel Mars segment of the John Batchelor Show this evening from 6:30 to 6:45 p.m. PDT (9:30-9:45 p.m. EDT). This follows my appearance on the show last week.