Will Pomerantz TEDx Talk: Why We Go to Space

Video Caption: William Pomerantz is the Vice President for Special Projects at Virgin Galactic. William’s thrilling answer to the question, “Why is it worth it to explore outer space?” leaves every audience member with a zero-gravity buzz.

Will is a graduate from Harvard University, the NASA academy, and the International Space University. Some of the ‘Special Projects’ Will has worked on are the LauncherOne small satellite launch vehicle and the use of SpaceShipTwo as a research platform, among others. Will is a Trustee of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS), the world’s largest student space organization. He is also a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Space Operations & Support Technical Committee. From 2005 – 2011, he worked at the X Prize Foundation, the world-leading incentive prize organization. As Senior Director of Space Prizes, he served as the primary author and manager of the $30 million Google Lunar Prize and the $2 million Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander X CHALLENGE. Will has also worked at Harvard and Brown Universities, the Futron Corporation, and the United Nations.

Virgin Galactic Suddenly Very Chatty About Engine Progress

Newton engine (Credi: Virgin Galactic)
Newton engine (Credi: Virgin Galactic)

The exclusive, multi-platform partnership that Virgin Galactic has forged with NBCUniversal has begun to bear fruit over the past two months. The media giant has signed on to chronicle Sir Richard Branson’s flight aboard SpaceShipTwo and all the events leading up to it.

In November, Sir Richard Branson phoned into CNBC from his Necker Island retreat in the Caribbean to announce that Virgin Galactic would begin accepting the virtual currency Bitcoin for SpaceShipTwo reservations.

A month later, NBC News got into the act, with Science Editor Alan Boyle and a film crew trekking out to Mojave for a powered flight of SpaceShipTwo. They went away disappointed when the test was scrubbed due to a rare patch of bad weather in the High Desert.


Branson’s Space Vision Becomes Ever Grander

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 millionauts at the FAITH Hangar of Virgin Galactic in Mojave, CA September 25, 2013 in Mojave, CA. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

During his public appearances, Virgin Galactic Vice President for Special Projects Will Pomerantz likes to tell his audiences that the first thing he does every morning is to Google his boss, Richard Branson, to find out what the brash British billionaire had committed the employees of his space company to doing while they were asleep.

Pomerantz describes these pronouncements — which typically involve optimistic predictions about the start of SpaceShipTwo commercial service, or Virgin Galactic’s ambitious future space projects — as the billionaire’s affectionate way of inspiring his employers to work harder and faster. It’s all rather amusing, really…cute even…and visionary, Sir Richard’s got that vision thing. Now did I mention — I may have said this, once or twice — that I work at a spaceline. I mean, how cool is that, huh?

Behind the smile and the joking and the pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming promotion for the company, one detects a slight hint of some of the frustration that periodically bubbles up just below Virgin Galactic’s slick exterior . I mean, how cool is it to work at a spaceline whose founder keeps making promises they can’t keep,  wants everything done tomorrow, and has little idea how any of this stuff works? Probably not nearly as cool as you might think.


Week in Review: Gliding Toward the Future With Russia’s Donald Trump

Parabolic Arc’s Week in Review….

Space Tourism Turns Ten: The space community celebrated the 10th anniversary of the first private spaceflight by Dennis Tito. Since that time, six other millionaires have followed on seven government space missions (Charles Simonyi flew twice).  Truly private sector spaceflight — using its own vehicles — is still waiting in the wings.

Two Steps Forward, One Back. In Mojave, SpaceShipTwo made its sixth glide flight – and second in five days – amid reports that engine development is also accelerating. Meanwhile, in New Mexico, Virgin Galactic Vice President Will Pomerantz promoted development opportunities near Spaceport America as the Legislature slashed the project’s budget.

Plus ca change… On Thursday, officials from NASA and the CCDev winners held a press conference at the Kennedy Space Center to discuss the future of America’s space program as workers prepared Endeavour for the penultimate mission of the Space Shuttle program. More than 700,000 people – including President Barack Obama and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords – gathered the next day only to have NASA cancel the launch because of a problem with an auxiliary power unit. Problems with APUs bedeviled STS-2 in 1981.

Putin Channels The Donald. Russia’s leader for life fired Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov after seven years on the job and replaced him with retired Army Gen. Vladimir Popovkin, who formerly served as director of Russia’s Space Forces. Putin said that Perminov was too old to serve, but the real reason was a series of embarrassing launch failures and program delays. Thus, Putin is no more honest when firing people than Trump has been about Obama’s birth certificate. Pray these two never face each other at a summit meeting.

The Next Great Leap. China unveiled details of a space station it will launch by 2020 that looks a lot like Mir circa 1996.It’s little wonder that efforts to create a new space race with China have fallen short. The country has launched six people into space over eight years; the most recent mission was over 2.5 years ago.

Video: Virgin Galactic Promotes Development Around Spaceport America

Virgin Galactic touts Spaceport business: krqe.com

Addressing the New Mexico Commercial Real Estate Development Association, NAIOP, Virgin Galactic Vice-President Will Pomeranz said each space tourist who comes here will bring an entourage that will need a complete spectrum of travel and tourist destination services.

“They are going to be coming with their loved ones, their immediate family and most of them with a lot of others as well,” he said.

So, Pomeranz urged the New Mexico developers to consider investing in the construction of the facilities needed to cater to wealthy space tourists, calling them “a lot of individuals and a lot of companies who have a lot of walking-around money.”

“If you spend $200,000 on a luxury experience, you are probably willing to pay a fair amount for a hotel, and a meal and a rental car,” he added.

Teams Angered Over Proposed Changes in Google Lunar X Prize

Peter J. Brown writes that proposed changes in the Google Lunar X Prize are not going over very well with teams competing in the $30 million competition:

The not so good news is that as the result of a proposed GLXP rule change, the $20 million GLXP grand prize could be reduced by $5 million if a government-backed lunar mission successfully lands and deploys a rover in advance of any of the 21 GLXP teams accomplishing the same feat. All GLXP teams must be 90% privately funded.


Google Lunar X Prize Announces New Teams from Europe and China

Officials from the Google Lunar X Prize announced two brand new teams today during a teleconference, bringing to 16 the number of groups competing for the $30 million prize to land a rover on the moon.

The two new teams are EuroLuna, with members in Denmark, Switzerland and Italy; and a joint Sino-European team called Selene. Each team brings a different approach to the tasks.