1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Virgin Galactic & Orbit

Discussion in 'Astronomy, Space and Planetary Science' started by rusky, 18 May 2011.

  1. rusky

    rusky Staff Member

    Virgin Galactic tests the return capabilities of their SpaceShipTwo spacecraft for the first time...

    How long before they become comercially viable??

     
    beanz likes this.
  2. beanz

    beanz Staff Member Staff Member

    I can see that for a while there will be a queue of well-off people waiting to fly it at whatever the cost. The big question long-term is whether there will always be enough people willing to do that, or whether commercial viability relies on the cost being brought down to make it within the reach of more and more people over time. That might mean a bigger 'fleet' of vehicles and the development of vehicles with more passenger capacity. Possibly flight profiles will develop to increase the proportion of the flight time actually spent in space, as I think this would attract more customers too.
     
  3. Yellow Fang

    Yellow Fang Veteran Geek

    Location:
    Reading
    I hear James Lovelock of Gaia fame is going to be one of the first passengers. Apparently, Richard Branson was going to name this service (or it may have been another airline service) Gaia. Lovelock wrote to him objecting it would be like him setting up a chain of brothels and calling it Virgin. Branson wrote back to say ok, by the way would you like a free trip on one. Lovelock said yes please.
     
    Luke likes this.
  4. amusicsite

    amusicsite dn ʎɐʍ sᴉɥ┴ Staff Member

    Location:
    UK
    I think it's dependent on if they can fly with no major disasters, at least in the first few years.

    That will need superb quality control and as NASA has proved time and again, you need to be able to swallow a lot off bad PR sometimes to ground the ship or halt flights if doubts arise about safety.

    Though Branson seems like the right man for the job as he has run and expanded the airline well in difficult economic conditions.
     
  5. beanz

    beanz Staff Member Staff Member

    Their timescale is being safety-led from what I read. It may only be suborbital flight, but the atmospheric reentry stresses are still there and still fierce.
     
  6. amusicsite

    amusicsite dn ʎɐʍ sᴉɥ┴ Staff Member

    Location:
    UK
    Test Pilot for Virgin Galactic = best job in the world :p:
     
  7. beanz

    beanz Staff Member Staff Member

    When I saw the footage, I couldn't help thinking of Chuck Yeager. The Right Stuff clearly lives on.
     
  8. Shaun

    Shaun Über Geek

    Looks amazing - I'd definitely want a window seat!! :thumbsup:
     
    Luke likes this.
  9. amusicsite

    amusicsite dn ʎɐʍ sᴉɥ┴ Staff Member

    Location:
    UK
    On click they have just said the first flights are going to be next year, 3 years late. Have not said why the delay.

    Also we are going to get a European space porthttp://www.spaceportsweden.com/

    Sweden! I always thought it was harder to get into space the further you got from the equator. Seems like a strange choice. Especially as the shuttle had problems launching in cold weather and it's not exactly tropical in Sweden.
     
  10. Shaun

    Shaun Über Geek

    Really, why's that?
     
  11. rusky

    rusky Staff Member

    It is better to launch rockets closer to the equator because the Earth rotates at a greater speed here than that at either pole. This extra speed at the equator means a rocket needs less thrust (and therefore less fuel) to launch into orbit.
     
    Shaun and amusicsite like this.
  12. amusicsite

    amusicsite dn ʎɐʍ sᴉɥ┴ Staff Member

    Location:
    UK
    Although I'm not sure how much of a disadvantage that is for low earth orbit, but it seems to make a big difference to fully leaving the earth's gravitational grip. That's why the USA launches from the furthest south they could get in Florida and Europe uses French Guiana. So maybe that African space center suddenly doesn't look so silly. After all Africa has one of the largest slice of the equator's land.

    I guess that's why Europe has been so successful in launching cheap satellites, it's got the base nearest the Equator. India and China could get closer than the US too. Meaning the US would always be a more expensive option until they have a base nearer the equator.

    Kenya/Somalia look like a prime location for a space center, maybe it would also bring wealth and stability to the region too. If anyone has a few billion lying around they want to lend me I'll give it a go and see if it works. :p:
     
  13. amusicsite

    amusicsite dn ʎɐʍ sᴉɥ┴ Staff Member

    Location:
    UK
  14. classic33

    classic33 Über Geek

     
  15. amusicsite

    amusicsite dn ʎɐʍ sᴉɥ┴ Staff Member

    Location:
    UK
    Just seen a classic BBC interview with Richard Branson about the crash. Apparently the British newspapers on Sunday were full of stories that the crash was down to the new fuel system and 'experts' were saying it was a known problem.

    Richard explained that the engines were in tact, there was no explosion. It sounds like it might have been pilot error deploying some system to early. Will have to wait for the full report to see. Then they kept banging on about safety till Richard pointed out he has run planes and trains for years with a good safety record, followed by more dumb questions from the BBC, who seem to just be getting worse and worse....
     
  16. beanz

    beanz Staff Member Staff Member

    Will be interesting to see what the investigators establish as the cause and what effect this has on the timescale of the venture.
     
  17. Surely there should be safety mechanisms to prevent such premature deployments? (For example, I can't get the lid of my spin drier fully open until the drum has stopped rotating, and the motor cuts out as soon as I try to open it.)
     
  18. amusicsite

    amusicsite dn ʎɐʍ sᴉɥ┴ Staff Member

    Location:
    UK
    Which begs the question do you need human pilots.
     
  19. classic33

    classic33 Über Geek

    Would you get on a plane that had no pilot onboard?
     
  20. amusicsite

    amusicsite dn ʎɐʍ sᴉɥ┴ Staff Member

    Location:
    UK
    Yes