Virgin Galactic to Conduct Suborbital Flight in Late October After Long Hiatus

SpaceShipTwo Unity’s second powered flight.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Virgin Galactic plans to resume suborbital flight tests of SpaceShipTwo (SS2) VSS Unity in late October from Spaceport America in New Mexico after a 20-month long hiatus, according to a filing the company made with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

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George Whitesides to Fly on Early Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Flight from Spaceport America

Richard Branson (l) and George Whitesides (r, back) walk with SpaceShipTwo pilots David Mackay and Mark Stucky after a successful glide flight. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A provision in George Whitesides’ contract has Virgin Galactic’s chief space officer — and possibly his wife, Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides — flying on one of SpaceShipTwo’s early suborbital flights from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

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Monday Musings: Brazil’s Choices, VG’s Finances & More

Launch trajectories from Alcantara (Credit: AEB)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A few thoughts as we begin week 403 of the Covid-19 lock down….

Location. Location. Location.

The three most important words in real estate. And Brazil’s Alcantara Launch Center has got it.

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Virgin Galactic Stock Price Declines, Commercial Flights Scheduled for Next Year

New SpaceShipTwo reaches weight on wheels milestone. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Virgin Galactic’s stock decline in extended trading after Sir Richard Branson’s spaceline reported second quarter earnings.

The stock closed on Monday at $24.02 after rising $1.57 (6.99%). In after-hours trading, the stock declined to $22.23, a decrease of $1.79 (-7.45%).

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Virgin Galactic Reveals SpaceShipTwo Cabin Interior

SpaceShipTwo seats rotated back In space. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Cabin design driven by astronaut experience:

  • Individually sized, reclining seats for G-force management and float zone volume;
  • Automated mood lighting harmonizes with each flight phase;
  • Personal seat back screens connect astronauts to live flight data;
  • Cabin architecture facilitates effortless movement in weightlessness;
  • 16 cameras provide high definition footage and stills;
  • 12 cabin windows for astronauts to gaze at Earth from;
  • Largest mirror in a spaceship cabin – mirror reflects the real-time astronaut experience. 

LAS CRUCES, N.M., July 28, 2020 (Virgin Galactic PR) – Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SPCE) (“Virgin Galactic” or “the Company”), a vertically integrated aerospace and space travel company, today revealed the cabin interior of its first SpaceShipTwo vehicle, VSS Unity in a virtual event streamed live on YouTube.

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Virgin Galactic to Unveil SpaceShipTwo Cabin Design

VSS Unity roll out on Feb. 19, 2016. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (Virgin Galactic PR) — Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SPCE) (“Virgin Galactic” or “the Company”), a vertically integrated aerospace company, today announced that SpaceShipTwo’s cabin interior design reveal will take place on July 28, 2020. The virtual event will be streamed live on YouTube. In celebration of this milestone, the Company will also be announcing plans to bring immersive versions of Virgin Galactic’s spaceflight and cabin interior experience, to aspiring astronauts around the world.

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The Future Ain’t What it Used to Be: The Triumph and Failure of the Ansari X Prize

WhiteKnight with SpaceShipOne on the taxiway prior to the first commercial spaceflight. The authori is at right holding up the video camera. (Credit: John Criswick)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Sixteen years ago today, I awoke very early and joined about 25,000 people at a newly-designated spaceport in the Mojave Desert to watch history in the making.

On that bright sunny June 21, Mike Melvill became the first person to fly to space on a privately-built vehicle by piloting SpaceShipOne to just above the Karman line at 100 km.

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A Look at SpaceX’s and Virgin Galactic’s Hypersonic Plans

I found this video entertaining. I’m not sure this guy has any grasp of the technological challenges or how SpaceX and Virgin Galactic are trying to tackle it.

He also calls a pair of routine pilot proficiency flights of WhiteKnightTwo at Spaceport America mysterious. Nothing really unusual about them. They conducted these flights at Mojave regularly.

Hypersonic sounds great, but it’s not clear when or if it will carry passengers. What we might be left with are hypersonic weapons indistinguishable from nuclear missiles. The chance of an accidental nuclear exchange could become much greater.

NASA to Release RFI for Astronauts to Fly on New Shepard, SpaceShipTwo

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine floated this idea during the Next-generation Suborbital Researchers Conference back in March. They’re clearly moving forward with it.

Bridenstine has mentioned that NASA needed some sort of plan to certify the vehicles. It will be interesting to see what the space agency will require of Blue Origin’s New Shepard and Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo before conducting any astronaut training on the suborbital systems.

The vehicles can provide several minutes of continuous weightless as well as experience in rocket-powered acceleration and re-entry.

Astronauts train aboard aircraft flying parabolic arcs that provide about 25 seconds of microgravity at a time. NASA contracts for training with Zero Gravity Corporation, which uses a modified Boeing 727.

The Year of the Four Spaceships: A Progress Report

The Expedition 63 crew welcomes Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station. (Credits: NASA / Bill Stafford)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Back in February, I went out on a limb and predicted that 2020 could be the Year of the Four Spaceships, with SpaceX, Boeing, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic and reaching major milestones in human spaceflight. (See 2020: Four Spaceships & the End of America’s Cosmic Groundhog Day)

With nearly half the year over, I thought it would be a good time to review the companies’ progress toward those milestones.

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Virgin Galactic, NASA Sign Agreement to Work on High-Mach Technologies

SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity arrives at Spaceport America aboard WhiteKnightTwo VMS Eve. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

MOJAVE, Calif., (Virgin Galactic PR) — Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:SPCE) (“Virgin Galactic” or “the Company”) and its wholly owned subsidiary, The Spaceship Company (“TSC”), announced today the signing of a Space Act Agreement with NASA to facilitate the development of high speed technologies.

The Space Act Agreement (“SAA”), is set to enable and foster collaboration between NASA, Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company in order to advance the United States’ efforts to produce technically feasible, high Mach vehicles for potential civil applications.

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