The European Space Agency’s 2020 Asteroid Day virtual programme series will feature scientists, astronomers, and astronauts reaching out to audiences everywhere. Each will be in a different language and broadcast on ADTV in the week leading to Asteroid Day. Dates to be announced soon.
30 June | Asteroid Day Live From Luxembourg
Asteroid Day LIVE is back! This year we come to you with experts calling in from around the world to discuss the latest missions, discoveries, opportunities and challenges that asteroids present. This year ADLIVE will premiere on Asteroid Day (30 June) – exact times, topics, and guest line-up to be announced soon.
In promoting an upcoming flight test of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo that is intended to reach space, Richard Branson has set up a straw man as a critic that he will gleefully knock down should the vehicle lands safely back on Runway 12-30 in Mojave later this month.
“I obviously would love to prove our critics wrong, and I’m reasonably confident that before Christmas, we will do so,” he told CNN’s Rachel Crane in a video interview.
Richard Branson is ramping up the hype again for his human spaceflight program.
CNN is here at the Mojave Air and Space Port today, doing live reports from Virgin Galactic’s FAITH facility, where the company builds and preps SpaceShipTwo and its mothership, WhiteKnightTwo, for flights.
And Branson is predicting SpaceShipTwo will fly to some definition of space by Christmas. That means they will drop the vehicle and light the engine for roughly 1 minute for the first time in an effort to reach at least 50 miles (80.46 km/264,000 ft) in altitude.
We’ve all heard this before, of course. Branson was publicizing the hell out of SpaceShipTwo back in fall 2014, predicting he would be in space on the first commercial flight within months. Then they would start flying more than 700 people who signed up. (CNN says the number is now down to about 600.)
Then SpaceShipTwo Enterprise crashed during a flight test on Oct. 31, 2014, killing co-pilot Mike Alsbury. It took Virgin Galactic about three years to get back to the same point in the flight test program with the second vehicle, Unity.
It was the second major setback for the program. In 2007 — the year Branson predicted commercial service would begin — three engineers were killed in a test stand explosion. Redesigning the nitrous oxide tank they were testing took years.
After more than a decade of delays and two fatal accidents, another space mogul might let the pilots fly the vehicle and hype the results afterward. But, that’s not the way Branson rolls. So, CNN is here today to preview the flight.
Branson is hyping an actual planned test this time. Barring any problems in the weeks ahead, we will see a flight before Dec. 21. At that point, everyone will take off for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, and the spaceport will become virtually a ghost town.
Virgin Galactic Chief Pilot David Mackay and test pilot Mark Stucky have flown the previous powered flights. I’m guessing they’ll be in the cockpit again this time for the program’s most challenging and dangerous test to date.
SpaceShipTwo Unity last flew four months ago. During its third powered flight on July 26, the vehicle reached 170,800 ft. (52 km/32.3 miles) and Mach 2.47 after firing its engine for 42 seconds.
Since the last flight test, engineers have been wrestling with several unidentified problems that were discovered on SpaceShipTwo.
Long-time space correspondent Miles O’Brien is leaving CNN as the U.S.-based cable network shuts down its science, space, environment and technology unit. Miles has covered NASA and many shuttle launches.Â This decision follows Aviation Week’s decision to close down its Cape Canaveral bureau and to lay off veteran space journalists Craig Â Couvalt and Dave Hughes.
All I can say is: Good luck. It’s tough out there. Maybe it’s a good time for these guys to write memoirs. They’ve certainly been witness to interesting events.