Tag: Will Whitehorn

So Exactly How Safe Will SpaceShipTwo Be?

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Richard Branson rolls out Virgin Galactic's Spaceship Unity in Mojave. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Richard Branson rolls out Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship Unity in Mojave. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Part 5 of 6

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

With the recent roll out of VSS Unity, Virgin Galactic marked a symbolic milestone in its recovery from the October 2014 accident that destroyed the first SpaceShipTwo and killed pilot Mike Alsbury.

Two questions loomed large over the celebrity-studded event. When will it fly? And how safe will it be when it does?

Company officials gave no timeline on the first question. Their answers about SpaceShipTwo’s safety differed significantly from previous claims they made over the last 11.5 years.

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NM & Virgin Galactic Announced Spaceport America Deal 10 Years Ago

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Early Spaceport America artwork showed facilities built underground. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Early Spaceport America artwork showed facilities built underground. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Space Tourism Flashback
10 Years Ago Today

SANTE FE, NM, Dec. 14, 2005 (Gov. Bill Richardson PR) — Governor Bill Richardson and Sir Richard Branson, Chairman of the Virgin Companies, today announced that Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial space tourism business, will locate its world headquarters and Mission Control in New Mexico. The agreement between the State of New Mexico and Virgin Galactic calls for New Mexico to build a $225 million spaceport in the southern part of the state, on 27- square miles of state land.

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LauncherOne’s Long & Winding Road to Orbit: A Timeline

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LauncherOne stage separation. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

LauncherOne stage separation. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

If the current schedule holds, Virgin Galactic’s revamped LauncherOne program will enter commercial service sometime in 2018 after roughly a decade of development. During that period, the program has been redefined several times, lost two of the key people hired to lead it, and changed its launch platform from WhiteKnightTwo to a jumbo jet. The estimates for the initial flight tests also have slipped by about  four years from 2013 to 2017.

Below is a timeline of the program’s major events, milestones, announcements, hires and departures, and other things. Feel free to let me know if I’ve missed anything significant.

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Britain Goes Ga Ga Over Spaceport Proposal — But Why?

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Cape_Canaveral_Wales_Mail
The normally staid Daily Mail has gone all ga ga over a recent proposal to build a spaceport in the United Kingdom.  For some odd reason, the sober-minded newspaper seems particularly excited by visions of Britain becoming a mecca for glamorous celebrities flying into space aboard Sir Richard Branson’s SpaceShipTwo.

It’s an alluring vision for the future — one that has already captivated people in numerous places in the United States and elsewhere, who all want spaceports of their own. As with many alluring visions, however, reality is not nearly as attractive.

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Former Virgin Galactic Chief Whitehorn Joins Stagecoach Group

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Will Whitehorn gives a pat on the back to Richard Branson as he greets Virgin Galactic ticketholders during the Oshkosh air show in 2009.

Former Virgin Galactic chief Will Whitehorn is focusing on transportation of a more Earthly kind. He will join Stagecoach Group plc. as a non-executive director  beginning May 1. Whitehorn will replace Sir George Mathewson as a member of the Remuneration Committee and serve on the Nomination Committee.

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Whitehorn Leaves Virgin Galactic to Focus on “Other Business Interests”

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Will Whitehorn gives a pat on the back to Richard Branson as he greets Virgin Galactic ticketholders during the Oshkosh air show in 2009.

Below is Virgin Galactic’s official press release announcing Will Whitehorn’s departure from the company. With traveling and the holidays, I overlooked it until now.

VIRGIN GALACTIC PRESS RELEASE
Dec. 23, 2010

Will Whitehorn, President of Virgin Galactic since the formation of the company in 2004, is to retire from that role in January 2011. George Whitesides, who was appointed as the first full time CEO in May 2010, assumes the title of President and CEO.

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Whitehorn Out at Virgin Galactic, Whitesides In

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Will Whitehorn gives a pat on the back to Richard Branson as he greets Virgin Galactic ticketholders during the Oshkosh air show in 2009.

Virgin Galactic’s president announces his resignation
Los Angeles Times

Will Whitehorn, president of the world’s first spaceliner Virgin Galactic, will retire from that role in January.

He will be replaced by George T. Whitesides, a former NASA chief of staff, who was also appointed as Virgin Galactic’s first full-time chief executive earlier this year.

Whitehorn is leaving the company to “concentrate on other business interests,” a press release said.

Read the full story.

Whitehorn “Hopping Mad” Over Soot Study

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The Guardian reports that Virgin Galactic’s Will Whitehorn was “hopping mad” over a recent study indicating that SpaceShipTwo might not be as clean as the company claims:

“The research was fundamentally wrong,” he says. “If you had a Virgin Galactic program running for ten years, if you assumed that we weren’t using biobutinol (which we will) we’re talking about less environmental impact over ten years than 1.5 shuttle launches.”

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Whitehorn Predicts SpaceShipTwo Test Flights into Space Next Year

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Gear down. (Photo: Mark Greenberg)

Private SpaceShipTwo Heads for New Territory
Space.com

Whitehorn said more SpaceShipTwo glide tests are in the offing. Those tests will include a high-altitude drop of the craft that will allow the pilots to feather and unfeather the SpaceShipTwo’s novel, care-free tail section used during the fall back into Earth’s atmosphere. This configuration allows a “hands-off” re-entry to Earth and greatly reduces aerodynamic and thermal loads on the craft.

These tests will be followed by attachment of the spaceplane’s hybrid rocket motor.

“There will be very short firings of the motor, and then we’ll extend those burns and we’ll start climbing into space,” Whitehorn told SPACE.com. “I think we can pretty safely say now that we’ll be in space in 2011. It’s taken a little bit longer. But the point is that it has been done safely.”

Read the full story.

Whitehorn: British Airways “Dirty Tricks” Pushed Virgin Group to Explore Space

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BA “dirty tricks” pushed Virgin into space – Whitehorn
MEETTHEBOSS.TV

Virgin’s latest plans to push travellers into space was the direct result of what Virgin Galactic president Will Whitehorn calls Brtish Airways “dirty tricks” campaign of 1993.

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Whitehorn: Virgin Galactic Costs Will Come Down

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Richard Branson after getting drenched by some Virgin Galactic staffers.

Richard Branson after getting drenched by some Virgin Galactic staffers.

Budget Space Travel with Virgin
Edinburgh Napier News

Whitehorn delivered a lecture to an audience at Edinburgh Napier University this week on the Virgin Galactic project in which he reassured listeners that the cost of a ticket is expected to drop gradually to just $90,000 per person…

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Will Virgin Galactic Soar Like an Eagle or Sink Like a Stone?

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Richard Branson after his first flight aboard WhiteKnightTwo at the Oshkosh airshow.

Richard Branson after his first flight aboard WhiteKnightTwo at the Oshkosh airshow.

Rocket Man
Arabian Business


Richard Branson has been on the receiving end of a fair few jokes in his time. One of the more memorable was in 2000, when British satirical magazine Private Eye ran a front cover of the entrepreneur dressed as Santa Claus with the caption; ‘No-one believes in you anymore.’

Virgin Trains, his railway operation, was coming under fire for its shocking time-keeping record and Branson himself had just made a failed bid for the franchise of the UK’s National Lottery.

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More WhiteKnightTwo Details

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wk2wing

There was a panel discussion at the Oshkosh airshow last night that featured Scaled Composites Burt Rutan and Bob Morgan and Virgin Galactic’s Will Whitehorn. Some highlights:

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Virgin Galactic President Will Whitehorn Talks Space Tourism

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Virgin Galactic's VMS Eve during its third test flight in March.

Virgin Galactic's VMS Eve during its third test flight in March.

AMEInfo Radio has a two-part interview ( Part 1 and Part II) with Virgin Galactic President Will Whitehorn. Not much new, just a few details and assertions:

  • Economy is not affecting sales very much; at $200,000 apiece, you either have the money to go or you don’t;
  • Just sold 3 tickets at a Grand Prix event in Bahrain;
  • The experience will take require four days for the training and spaceflight;
  • Unlike Soyuz orbital flights, SpaceShipTwo doesn’t require months of technical and language training (of course, you’re talking about 4-5 minutes of weightlessness vs. 12-14 days).
  • Some Virgin employees will go into space as part of test flight program prior to paying passengers;
  • Very interested in flying out of the Persian Gulf, where there is a lot of interest in flying (12 tickets thus far);
  • United States is biggest area, but also a lot of interest in the UK;
  • In some cases, the nationals of countries will be the first ones from those nations to go into space;
  • In 10-15 years, space tourism will be “regularlized” with 4-5 spaceports around the world conducting flights; will carry more people into space in the first year than have gone there since 1961.


VG’s Whitehorn: UK Will Lose Out on Commercial Space without Regulation Changes

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Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo with Burt Rutan and Richard Branson

Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo with Burt Rutan and Richard Branson

UK ‘yet to embrace space tourism’
BBC News

The UK is ill-prepared to exploit the emerging commercial spaceflight sector, says the president of Virgin Galactic.

Will Whitehorn said Britain lacked the regulatory framework that would help the industry grow but which would also ensure the necessary safety standards. Speaking at a space tourism conference in London, he said current rules would prevent Virgin launches from the UK.

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