The Spaceship Company, the Virgin Group firm responsible for constructing the VSS Unity SpaceShipTwo spaceplane, is partnering with Denver-based Boom Supersonic to construct a subscale demonstrator for a future supersonic airliner.
Virgin Galactic president Mike Moses sets out Richard Branson's long-term vision for hypersonic suborbital point-to-point transport, at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
A former NASA shuttle launch manager is the new president of Virgin Galactic as the company prepares to enter a new phase of test flights for its SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceplane.
Virgin Galactic announced Oct. 13 that Mike Moses has been promoted to president of the company. Moses joined Virgin Galactic in 2011 as vice president of operations after a NASA career that included working as a flight director and shuttle launch integration manager, responsible for the final dozen space shuttle launches.
Virgin Galactic is planning to conduct the first glide flight of its SpaceShipTwo spaceplane 'Unity' today (Tues 1st Nov). The flight will be the first of a short series of glide flights, prior to the installation of the hybrid motor and the first powered test flight, currently planned for early 2017.
PARIS, FRANCE – September 12, 2016 – Commercial spaceline Virgin Galactic announced today that global communications company Sky and Space Global (ASX:SAS) has signed a binding launch services agreement to purchase four dedicated missions on the LauncherOne system. Speaking at the World Satellite Business Week event in Paris, officials from the two companies revealed that these flights will enable the deployment of Sky and Space Global’s initial constellation. Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Virgin Galactic also announced the capability to fly LauncherOne from low latitudes, allowing customers to maximize the amount of payload delivered to low inclination orbit, including equatorial orbits. Typically, ground-based launch vehicles must expend significant amounts of performance to deliver spacecraft to inclinations well away from the latitude of the launch site. By contrast, as an air-launched system, LauncherOne can optimize each mission to customer requirements by operating from a variety of launch locations—including launching the rocket from above or near the equator in order to most efficiently and cost-effectively insert satellites into low inclination orbits.
Sky and Space Global’s flights are the first announced LauncherOne missions planned to fly from low latitudes, allowing Sky and Space Global to maximize the amount of payload delivered to a low inclination orbit. Previously disclosed LauncherOne contracts, including flights for OneWeb and NASA, are designed to fly to higher inclination orbits.
Each of the four launches purchased by Sky and Space Global will be used to carry multiple satellites, which will rapidly establish the company’s innovative communication system infrastructure and service. The flights are expected to begin in 2018.
Flight Global reports that Virgin Galactic is expected to resume flight testing of the SpaceShipTwo spaceplane "soon". The FAA has granted an operating license for SpaceShipTwo Serial 2 Unity, the replacement for the crashed Enterprise. A runway taxi test was conducted on 1 August.
New Spaceship Conducts Taxi Test as it Nears Start of Flight Test Program
We kicked off August with two important milestones.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA-AST) has awarded Virgin Galactic an operator license for SpaceShipTwo. The license award, which will ultimately permit commercial operations of the vehicle, was the culmination of several years of in-depth interaction with the FAA. The license review process consists of an in-depth review of the vehicles system design, safety analysis and flight trajectory analysis, culminating in FAA-AST approval.
And earlier this morning, our team conducted a taxi test with SpaceShipTwo (VSS Unity) and Range Rover Autobiography provided by Virgin Galactic’s automotive partner Land Rover. This test is an important step towards the flight test program.
We couldn’t be more proud of our team and their hard work to reach both milestones.
Virgin Galactic Senior Vice President of Operations Mike Moses said, “The granting of our operator license is an important milestone for Virgin Galactic, as is our first taxi test for our new spaceship. While we still have much work ahead to fully test this spaceship in flight, I am confident that our world-class team is up to the challenge.”
Check back soon for more details about the flight test program and what to expect on the ground and in the skies.
To travel to space is the stuff of childhood dreams and better access to space is key to solving many of our planet’s greatest challenges. Through Generation Galactic, Galactic Unite’s Outreach Program, we strive to provide inspiration and practical support to young people to encourage them to pursue a STEM-based education and ensure that future generations are equipped to solve Earth’s greatest challenges.
Our virtual field trips provide online interactive experiences bringing “space” directly into the classroom, where every student gets to talk personally with Future Astronauts and a diverse range of staff from Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company.
Ron Rosano, one of our Future Astronauts, runs Galactic Unite’s online classroom program, and has been inviting classrooms from all over the world to hear about space travel and space careers from the team at Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company. To date Galactic Unite has hosted over 90 webcasts with 170 Classrooms, reaching 4,700 students, 2,000 of which are at schools that neighbor Spaceport America in New Mexico. Students have discovered what it’s like to work in a spaceship factory, how future astronauts are preparing for their flight to space and what career opportunities there are in the commercial space industry.
As part of our Local Community Outreach initiative, and in association with the Challenger Learning Center of Las Cruces, Ron and our team in New Mexico set a goal to reach every sixth grade student in the Las Cruces Public Schools (LCPS) between January and March of this year. “It was highly rewarding to help organize the ambitious and successful effort of providing sixth grade students in Las Cruces with the opportunity to speak one-on-one with Virgin Galactic engineers, pilots, crew chiefs, office staff, and Future Astronauts. The dawn of a new space age is upon us, and these students are now well informed of the role they can play in future space travel” says Ron Rosano.
“The Virgin Galactic program support for the Challenger Learning Center has been transformational for our students and teachers within the Las Cruces Public Schools. We are very excited to continue and expand our partnership to build the focus of past, present, and future space travel into core science curriculum for all students” says Melissa DeLaurentis, Coordinator of Secondary STEM Education at Challenger Learning Center/Las Cruces Public Schools.
So, if you’re a space-hungry student or a teacher fascinated with space travel then we’d love to hear from you! Sign up your school or a classroom for an opportunity to Spacechat with Virgin Galactic and you’ll discover that you don’t necessarily need to be a rocket scientist to work in the space industry!
Virgin Galactic will start multiple trial launches of its air-launched smallsat LV LauncherOne next year. VG has built and furnished a LauncherOne manufacturing plant in Long Beach, CA and signed a massive contract with the LEO comsat constellation project OneWeb for 39 launches.