Tag: virgin galactic

For Sale: One Slightly Used Spaceport

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WhiteKnightTwo visited Spaceport America for the first time in three years on Wednesday. Below, you can see a full-scale model of SpaceShipTwo on the ramp. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

WhiteKnightTwo visited Spaceport America for the first time in three years on Wednesday. Below, you can see a full-scale model of SpaceShipTwo on the ramp. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

New Mexico State Sen. George Munoz, D-Gallop, has introduced a bill that would get New Mexico out of the space business by putting Spaceport America up for sale.

The measure, SB-267, would require the New Mexico Spaceport Authority to develop a plan for selling the $225 million facility located outside of Truth or Consequences.

Funds from the sale would go toward early pay back of bonds used to fund the spaceport. Special taxes imposed in Sierra and Dona Ana counties to help pay for the spaceport would be rescinded. And the spaceport authority would be put out of business.

The spaceport was developed with Virgin Galactic as its anchor tenant. However, Virgin has experienced years of delay in getting its space tourism business up and running. SpaceX has a test facility at Spaceport America, and a number of sounding rockets have been launched from the location.

Spaceport America to Host Valentine’s Day Fly-in

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The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space building with a security fence around it. (Credit: Alex Heard)

The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space building with a security fence around it. (Credit: Alex Heard)

SPACEPORT AMERICA, NM (NMSA PR) – Spaceport America will host its first-ever Private Pilots Fly-in on Valentine’s Day, February 14th. This is the first time that the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) will open up the spaceport to this kind of event. The spaceport currently has over 5,000 annual visitors that see the spaceport by taking one of the weekly public bus tours. Holding a fly-in event like this was a result of the growing number of requests from private pilots to fly into the spaceport to take a tour.

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How Richard Branson Has Been Funding Virgin Galactic

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Sir Richard Branson speaks to a group of future astronauts at the FAITH Hangar of Virgin Galactic in Mojave, CA September 25, 2013 in Mojave, CA. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Sir Richard Branson speaks to a group of future astronauts at the FAITH Hangar of Virgin Galactic in Mojave, CA September 25, 2013 in Mojave, CA. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

For anyone wondering how the Virgin Group has been funding Virgin Galactic over the past decade, the Financial Times had an excellent overview back in early November just after SpaceShipTwo crashed.

It seems that Virgin Galactic had sucked in up to $600 million in investment by that point, with nearly two-thirds of it from Abu Dhabi. The Virgin Group also has been funding the rest using profits from other parts of Sir Richard Branson’s empire.

For Galactic’s business model, Virgin followed a well-worn route. The group’s favoured start-up model relies on private investment for financing, with generally a co-investor sharing equity, and therefore the financial risk, often with a large amount of debt to the parent company loaded on to the balance sheet, a model it has followed at most of its businesses since the group’s brief but painful experience as a London-listed company in the 1980s.
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Virgin Galactic Now On its Own

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Takeoff! (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Takeoff! (Credit: Douglas Messier)

The Los Angeles Times has a story on how Virgin Galactic is proceeding after the loss of SpaceShipTwo. The company is mostly on its own, no longer relying upon Scaled Composites to build SpaceShipTwos and WhiteKnightTwos and to run the flight test program.

Virgin Galactic’s fully owned subsidiary, The Spaceship Company, is now building the second SpaceShipTwo on its own. Virgin will conduct the flight test program for the vehicle without Scaled. Previously, flight test was led by Scaled with increased participation from Virgin personnel as the program went further.

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2014 in Review: Mojave’s Difficult Year

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Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Stu Witt (Credit: Bill Deaver)

Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Stu Witt (Credit: Bill Deaver)

“2014 will be a fun ride. We welcome you to get onboard, strap in and hold on!”

Stu Witt

CEO & General Manager
Mojave Air and Space Port
Jan. 9, 2014

Stu Witt had a lot of reasons to be optimistic as 2014 began. The Mojave spaceport was on a roll. On Jan. 10, Scaled Composites conducted the third powered flight of SpaceShipTwo in less than 9 months. XCOR was making steady progress on the Lynx and a new hydrogen engine for ULA, Stratolaunch was busy building the world’s largest aircraft, and other tenants such as Masten and Firestar had successes over the past year.

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Seattle, Mojave Duel to be Silicon Valley of Space

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Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

With last week’s visit of Elon Musk and his announcement of a new facility to design and build a 4,000-satellite constellation, Seattle Weekly is reviving the region’s claim to be the “Silicon Valley of space.”

That might be a bit of a surprise to Silicon Valley, the home of some cool space start-ups and the source (via Google) of a lot of Musk’s satellite money.

The moniker is also probably surprising to some folks in Mojave, which also has staked its claim to that title from time to time. Valley Public Radio talks to Mojave Air and Space Port CEO/General Manager Stu Witt and Leonard David of Space.com about Mojave, commercial space and the loss of SpaceShipTwo.

Is Kern County The Next Frontier For Aerospace Innovation?

It’s a bit of a disappointing discussion. Both Leonard and Stu appear more afraid of the government coming in with regulations than they are of Scaled continuing to kill people on this program. Ten years, four deaths and one wrecked spaceship later, and this program hasn’t come anywhere near space.

That’s not exactly a shining example of NewSpace competency. And shouldn’t that raise some basic questions about Scaled, its design and safety protocols, and Virgin Galactic’s rush to move forward?

And, as the FAA’s George Nield has pointed out, these guys aren’t exactly the Wright brothers. They’re not inventing a new mode of transportation from whole cloth. People have been flying into space for more than 50 years. There’s a lot of good, proven safety practices out there. Without some mandatory regulations, Nield fears that some irresponsible operator will ruin it for everyone in the industry.

That’s the argument, anyway. Whether you agree with it or not, it would have been nice if it had come up in the discussion. I guarantee you it will be a point of contention at the FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference next month.

Year in Review: A Look at Virgin Galactic Developments in 2014

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WhiteKnightTwo visited Spaceport America for the first time in three years on Wednesday. Below, you can see a full-scale model of SpaceShipTwo on the ramp. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

WhiteKnightTwo visited Spaceport America for the first time in three years on Wednesday. Below, you can see a full-scale model of SpaceShipTwo on the ramp. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Continuing our look back at 2014, we review progress at Virgin Galactic. While the loss of SpaceShipTwo on Oct. 31 understandably dominated the headlines, there were a number of other newsworthy developments at the company last year.

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New Mexico Spaceport Authority Seeks $6.2 Million for Ops, New Hangar

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The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space building with a security fence around it. (Credit: Alex Heard)

The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space building with a security fence around it. (Credit: Alex Heard)

New Mexico Spaceport Authority officials will seek an additional $1.7 million to fund operations and $4.5 million to build a new hangar to attract additional tenants to Spaceport America, the Las-Cruces Sun-News reports.

The funding would be a special appropriation, on top of the general appropriation they had already prepared, and would only be used if needed, Spaceport Authority Executive Director Christine Anderson said.

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New Virgin Galactic Video About Second SpaceShipTwo

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Video Caption: An introduction to our second Spaceship, featuring interviews with key team members and behind the scenes shots of our Spaceship factory.

OneWeb to Provide Internet Services Worldwide

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Greg Wyler

Greg Wyler

STUART, Fla., Jan. 15, 2015 (OneWeb PR) — WorldVu Satellites Limited, operating as OneWeb, Ltd, today announced plans to build, launch and operate a low-earth-orbit satellite constellation to help bring high-speed Internet and telephony to billions of people around the world. Qualcomm Incorporated and The Virgin Group have been announced as initial investors, with Qualcomm Executive Chairman Dr. Paul Jacobs and Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson to join OneWeb founder Greg Wyler on the company’s board of directors. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed. OneWeb plans to bring in additional investors to fund construction, launch and operation of its system.

According to the International Telecommunications Union, as of the end of 2014, more than half the world’s population lacks Internet access. OneWeb, founded in 2012 under the name WorldVu, hopes to bring high-speed Internet and telephony to people living in underserved areas. The OneWeb satellite system introduces the first-ever telecom-class micro satellites. This projected fleet of 648 micro satellites is intended to provide low-latency, high-speed Internet access directly to small user terminals deployed around the world.

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