Tag: virgin galactic

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!

Virgin Galactic Lowers Second SpaceShipTwo Onto Landing Gear


SpaceShipTwo Test Flights in Late 2016?

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

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

Immediately after the fatal crash of SpaceShipTwo last October, Virgin Galactic vowed to have a second spacecraft ready for testing within about six months.  As the six month anniversary of Mike Alsbury’s was marked last week, it is clear it will take a while before flights resume. In fact, one Virgin Galactic official indicated flight tests might not occur until late 2016.

The company marked the anniversary of the fatal flight with an update on its website.
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Spaceport America Spending Criticized

Spaceport America fly-in. (Credit: NMSA)

Spaceport America fly-in. (Credit: NMSA)

KRQE News has looked into how the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) is spending money on Spaceport America — and it’s not pretty.

The authority is paying $2.9 million annually to a company to provide state-of-the-art fire protection to the largely empty spaceport — which is used for the occasional sounding rocket launch and television commercial.

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NTSB Looks at Human Factors as Virgin Expresses Confidence in Engine

WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo on the tarmac on Wednesday, July 23, 2014. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo on the tarmac on July 23, 2014. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Over at The Space Review, Jeff Foust has an excellent update on Antares and SpaceShipTwo six months after they both crashed within days of each other at the end of October. There are a couple of interesting things worth pointing out on the SpaceShipTwo failure.

Continue reading ‘NTSB Looks at Human Factors as Virgin Expresses Confidence in Engine’

Virgin Galactic Could Change SpaceShipTwo Engine Again

Nitrous nylon engine test on Jan. 16, 2014. (Credit: Ken Brown)

Nitrous nylon engine test on Jan. 16, 2014. (Credit: Ken Brown)

Here in Phoenix at the Space Access 15 Conference. Virgin Galactic Vice President Will Pomerantz spoke earlier today, revealing that after nearly 11 years of development the company still hasn’t figured out what type of engine it will use to power SpaceShipTwo.

This was a rather startling development because the matter had supposedly been settled last year. However, it does match what Parabolic Arc has been hearing for months about parallel engine development.

Continue reading ‘Virgin Galactic Could Change SpaceShipTwo Engine Again’

Virgin Galactic Video on Employee Wellbeing


Video Caption: What does employee wellbeing look like in the space exploration industry? We take a look behind the scenes at Virgin Galactic to get some answers…

Jim Vanderploeg is the chief medical officer at the world’s first commercial spaceline and is charged with looking after not just future astronauts but the team at Virgin Galactic. With years of experience at orgainsations such as NASA, what does Jim view as the key to ensuring that a team which is preparing for space is happy and healthy?

Virgin Galactic Astro Relations Guy Leaves for Uber


Looks as if long-time Virgin Galactic Astronaut Relations guy Dave Clark has left the company for Uber.

New Virgin Galactic PR Approach Already Sunk

 Sir Richard Branson and daughter, Holly, look through the window of a SpaceShipTwo shell. (Photo credit: Mark Greenberg/Virgin Galactic)

Sir Richard Branson and daughter, Holly, look through the window of a SpaceShipTwo shell. (Photo credit: Mark Greenberg/Virgin Galactic)

Virgin Galactic’s new public relations strategy has been torpedoed less than two weeks after it was publicly rolled out.

On March 31, NBC New’s Alan Boyle wrote about the company’s new approach to managing expectations:

“…there’s one lesson they’re willing to share: Don’t say too much about what you’re planning to do before you do it.

Before the accident, company founder Richard Branson issued statements saying SpaceShipTwo would fly paying passengers to the edge of space within one to three years — whether that translated into 2007, or 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014 or 2015.

“Sometimes people misinterpreted those as firm dates or promises,” said Will Pomerantz, Virgin Galactic’s vice president for projects, “so we don’t want to repeat that mistake.”

It seems like the boss didn’t get the memo about the new strategy. Following a visit to Mojave on Thursday, Branson issued yet another prediction.

“There is going to be about a one-year delay,” he told Bloomberg Television, adding the team was working “day and night” on the next SpaceShipTwo.

A year’s delay from what point was not clear. If it’s from the time of the accident last Oct. 31, that would put the first commercial flight toward the end of the first quarter of 2016. Prior to the crash, Branson was predicting that first flight in the first quarter of this year.

The new timeline doesn’t appear to be very credible. Following the loss of SpaceShipTwo, officials had predicted they would have the second spacecraft completed within about six months. With that deadline now approaching, they are now talking about having the new SpaceShipTwo ready for ground tests by the end of the year.