Former NASA Astronaut No Fan of Richard Branson’s “Dangerous” & “Dead-end” SpaceShipTwo Vehicle

SpaceShipTwo breaks up in flight on Oct. 31, 2014. (Crredit: NTSB)

Four-time space shuttle astronaut Andy Thomas is no fan of Sir Richard Branson’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital tourism vehicle, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reports.

“It’s really just a high altitude aeroplane flight and a dangerous one at that.”

He said the technology for the spacecraft had little room to grow.

“I think, as a technology to get humans out into space, it’s a go-nowhere, dead-end technology,” he said.

“You can’t grow it, you can’t make it big enough.”

(more…)

Space Tourism Roundup: Spaceports Down Under, Orbital Postcards and Customer No. 205

The South Australian Tourism Commission is “cautiously optimistic” about Virgin Galactic flying space tourism vehicles from Woomera. The London-based company is considering a spaceport in Australia at some point in the future.

The Wimmera Mail-Times reports that Mrs. Amanda Wilson of Horsham, South Australia wants to invite Virgin Galactic boss Richard Branson to her town as part of a bid to locate a spaceport there. The paper really doesn’t explain who Mrs. Wilson is, but she is truly excited about space travel. She may have to wait awhile; the paper quotes a Virgin official as saying Australia is not in the company’s immediate plans.

Speaking of Virgin Galactic, The Advertiser has a story about Englishman Richard Burr, who is number 205 on the list to fly into suborbital space aboard SpaceShipTwo. The 52-year-old North Norfolk man is a property developer and businessman. “Everybody has a dream,” Burr said, “mine happens to be expensive.”

The world’s next space tourist, Richard Garriott, will take custom photographs of Earth for 200 paying subscribers on his ISS flight in October. The “Earth Portraits” program is being co-sponsored by the Association of Space Explorers and the space memorabilia website collectSPACE.com.

Virgin Looks at Launch Sites in Australia

AdelaideNow has a story about Virgin Galactic’s plans to establish a spaceport in Australia for suborbital tourism flights. The London-based company is considering launch sites in South Australia’s Outback and Victoria.

“We do have plans to launch from venues worldwide and Australia is in our long-term plans,” said Virgin Galactic’s Carolyn Wincer. “South Australia and Victoria would be good places to launch from.”