Tag: virgin galactic

BREAKING NEWS: Jim Tighe to Depart Scaled Composites — UPDATED

13 Comments
SpaceShipTwo on a glide flight with WhiteKnightTwo above it. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

SpaceShipTwo on a glide flight with WhiteKnightTwo above it. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Updated with statement from Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The chief aerodynamicist credited with designing SpaceShipTwo is departing the program on the eve of a crucial series of flight tests designed that Virgin Galactic hopes will lead to the start of commercial suborbital space tourism operations early next year.

Multiple sources have confirmed that Jim Tighe announced on Thursday that he would be leaving his position as chief aerodynamicist at Scaled Composites in two weeks for a job at an unnamed aerospace company. It is not clear what prompted the move.

Update: Reports indicate Tighe will be working for an aviation start-up based in Silicon Valley.

Continue reading ‘BREAKING NEWS: Jim Tighe to Depart Scaled Composites — UPDATED’

Branson Says First Flight From New Mexico in February or March

19 Comments

In this clip from “The Late Show With David Letterman,” Virgin Galactic Founder Richard Branson says he will be on the first flight of SpaceShipTwo from New Mexico in February or March 2015.

Impact of Zero G’s Operational Problems on NASA

Comment
Made in Space employees on a Zero G research flight.

Made in Space employees on a Zero G research flight.

As you know, Zero Gravity Corporation provides parabolic flight services to NASA using a modified Boeing 727 aircraft. I asked the folks over at the space agency’s Flight Opportunities Program (FOP), which funds scientific and technical research projects on various vehicles, about what impact the company’s legal and operational problems have had or are having on NASA operations.

Continue reading ‘Impact of Zero G’s Operational Problems on NASA’

NASA Selects 4 Companies for Flight Opportunities Program

Comments
Masten Space Systems' Xombie technology demonstration test bed ascends into the Mojave Desert sky from the Mojave Air and Space Port during a March 2013 flight to validate Draper Labs' GENIE flight control system. (Credit: NASA/Tom Tschida)

Masten Space Systems’ Xombie technology demonstration test bed ascends into the Mojave Desert sky from the Mojave Air and Space Port during a March 2013 flight to validate Draper Labs’ GENIE flight control system. (Credit: NASA/Tom Tschida)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) – NASA has selected four companies to integrate and fly technology payloads on commercial suborbital reusable platforms that carry payloads near the boundary of space. The selection is part of NASA’s continuing effort to foster a viable market for American commercial reusable suborbital platforms that allow testing of new space technologies within Earth’s atmosphere.

The selected companies are:

  • Masten Space Systems, Mojave, California
  • Paragon Space Development Corp., Tucson, Arizona
  • Up Aerospace Inc., Highlands Ranch, Colorado
  • Virgin Galactic, New York City

Continue reading ‘NASA Selects 4 Companies for Flight Opportunities Program’

German Space Tourism Company Seeks Funds, Hopes Virgin Galactic Succeeds

Comment

Earth_from_space_graphic
It’s an old story: you’ve got a great idea that you know will work and make wheelbarrows of money, but you don’t have any funds to develop it.

Such is the case for V-Plane, a Hamburg company that designs small aircraft that wants to go into the space tourism business. The company has designed an 8-passenger suborbital space plane that with tickets costing 150,000 euros ($185,000) per person.

Continue reading ‘German Space Tourism Company Seeks Funds, Hopes Virgin Galactic Succeeds’

Mojave Watch: Suborbital Space Planes Prep for Flights

Comments
Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Here’s some Saturday morning reading for all of you on suborbital vehicles now being assembled and tested here in Mojave:

  • P.J. O’Rourke has an entertaining account of his recent visit to visit XCOR, where he likes what he finds;
  • Private Eye takes a look at 15 years worth of unfulfilled promises by Richard Branson to send tourists to space; and,
  • Pat Hynes believes that regular flights of Branson’s SpaceShipTwo from Spaceport America in New Mexico are, at best, about a year away.

Up to a Point: A ‘Space Corvette’ in Every Garage
The Daily Beast

“The Lynx’s 30-foot fuselage and 24-foot wingspan would fit in a McMansion garage. And it’s as prettier than anything a rich car collector has in there now.”

Beam us up, Beardie!
Private Eye

“WHEN will Sir Richard Branson launch himself into space? ‘What people forget is that it is rocket science,’ he quipped in February. ‘It is complicated. But now every box has been ticked and we’re nearly there.’ Er, how nearly? ‘We have a launch date this summer… By September, I hope to have gone to space.’

“September is upon us, so presumably Beardie Lightyear is now aboard his rocket, preparing to slip the surly bonds of earth with a cry of ‘To infinity and beyond!’ Or, on past form, perhaps not…”

Private space taking shape: Virgin Galactic delays not fatal
Las Cruces Bulletin

“Creating a time line based on past tests of the of its spaceliner, Hynes said a more realistic time line to expect seeing Spaceport America become a frequent destination for those who have $200,000 to $250,000 to spare for a thrill ride is, at best, a year away.

“’That means we can prepare,’ she said. ‘We have time.’”

Promotional Video for Land Rover’s Win a Trip to Space Contest

Comments

Video Caption: This is your chance to go on the ultimate adventure. You and your friends could win a trip to space on a Virgin Galactic commercial flight, courtesy of Land Rover.

Editor’s Note: It’s interesting the competition has one winner and three friends. This is what sources tell me that capacity has been reduced to in the passenger cabin due to changes to SpaceShipTwo. Nobody has acknowledged this officially, but this is a clue that the reports are true.

On a related note, it’s good to see Spaceport America finally being used for something other than the occasional sounding rocket launch. The place has a definite future for cool commercials.

Key Google Satellite Executive Departs

Comments

Google_logo_newGoogle’s effort to develop a global satellite broadband network has suffered a setback with the departure of a key executive along with the loss of rights to radio spectrum.

Multiple media outlets are reporting that Greg Wyler has departed after only a few months at the Internet giant. The reports indicate that he is now working closely with SpaceX and Elon Musk, although not as an employee.

Continue reading ‘Key Google Satellite Executive Departs’

Win a Trip to Space With Land Rover

Comments
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)

Land Rover Press Release

Today Land Rover unveiled the 2015 Discovery Sport, the brand’s new premium compact SUV and first of the new Discovery family of vehicles, in a video hosted on LandRoverUSA.com. The new Discovery Sport debut video, shot at Spaceport America, New Mexico, was released in conjunction with the announcement of the Land Rover “Galactic Discovery” competition, offering groups of aspiring astronauts a chance to win a once-in-a-lifetime trip to space with three friends for the ultimate adventure.
Continue reading ‘Win a Trip to Space With Land Rover’

SpaceShipTwo Conducts Successful Glide Flight

10 Comments
WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo just after takeoff from the Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo just after takeoff from the Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

It’s funny. You see the most interesting things driving into Mojave sometimes. Driving in on Highway 14 this morning, I saw that WhiteKnightTwo was down at the end of the runway, as I had expected. I new a flight was planned, so I got up early.

Then I noticed it seemed to be getting bigger and a whole bunch of dust getting kicked up. Hey! That thing’s taking off. So, I pulled over to the side of the road and snapped a few photos as it flew overhead.

Takeoff! (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Takeoff! (Credit: Douglas Messier)

WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo are pretty amazing vehicles to look at. You don’t get tired of watching them take off.

For this flight, I decided to drive up to Koehn Lake, which is a dry lake bed that’s probably 20 miles or so north of Mojave. I figured it would be a good spot to try to get some photos of the drop.

It would have been, had my camera been cooperation. But, it picked a fine time to go not cooperate with me. I did get a few shots of the release with my cell phone.

SpaceShipTwo on a glide flight with WhiteKnightTwo above it. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

SpaceShipTwo on a glide flight with WhiteKnightTwo above it. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

SpaceShipTwo was venting something, but I saw no flames nor did I hear the rumbling across the desert that accompanies a powered flight. It was fairly silent out there, except for the distant drone of WhiteKnightTwo’s engine. [UPDATE: Virgin Galactic confirms that the test was a cold flow of gasses used in  powered flight.]

Virgin Galactic Tweeted that it was “an in-flight test of #SpaceShipTwo’s ‘plumbing’ – the pressurization system for the rocket motor.” It’s also a dress rehearsal for the next powered flight, which the company promises is “coming soon.”

That flight will likely come in September. I’m looking forward to it.