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Virgin Galactic

Northrop Grumman's preliminary design for DARPA's Experimental Spaceplane XS-1 (Image: Nor...

Northrop Grumman, in partnership with Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic, has unveiled the preliminary design it is developing as part of DARPA’s XS-1 Spaceplane project. Looking like a windowless update of a 1960s Dyna Soar orbiter, it’s the next step in producing launch systems that will dramatically reduce the costs of getting into orbit.  Read More

The UK spaceport would court commercial spaceflight operators, such as Virgin Galactic (Ph...

The commercialization of space travel is picking up pace with companies like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic leading the way. In a bid to ensure it doesn't miss out on the potential economic benefits of commercial spaceflights, the UK is looking to construct its first spaceport, with a shortlist of eight potential sites announced at the Farnborough Air Show.  Read More

A DARPA rendering of the planned XS-1, launching its second-stage rocket

It takes a lot more money and preparation to launch a rocket than to have a plane take off. That's why DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) first initiated its Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program. The idea is that once built, the XS-1 could take off and land like a regular aircraft, but could also deliver satellite payloads into low-Earth orbit while airborne. Today, the agency announced its plans for Phase 1 of the program, which includes awarding contracts for designs of the autonomous spaceplane.  Read More

SpaceShipTwo will carry 12 NASA experiments (Image: Mars Scientific/Clay Center Observator...

Science and space tourism shook hands this week with NASA announcing 12 technology experiments that will fly on the SpaceShipTwo spaceplane under a charter agreement with Virgin Galactic. The payload is a mixture of government, academic, and private microgravity experiments that will form the first commercial research flight for the spacecraft.  Read More

Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America have signed a joint agreement with for airspace use ...

Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America have signed a joint agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for access to airspace for spaceflights from New Mexico. The agreement helps to pave the way for commercial flights of Virgin's SpaceShipTwo, and is the first agreement of its type for a commercial spaceline.  Read More

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, shown here on a test flight, will be fueled by a thermoset...

As the still-to-be-announced date of the first commercial flight of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo approaches, more and more of the technology involved is getting nailed down. A case in point is the company's announcement that it has decided which fuel will be used in the first passenger-carrying flights of the suborbital spacecraft. The solid fuel grains that will fuel the world’s largest operational hybrid rocket will be a thermoset plastic similar to nylon.  Read More

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo on its way to a record 71,000 ft altitude and Mach 1.4 (Pho...

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo (SS2) continues to inch toward a full suborbital test flight with its third supersonic test carried out Friday morning. The SS2 rocket engine fired for 20 seconds, pushing the suborbital spacecraft to an altitude of 71,000 ft (18 km) and a top speed over Mach 1.4, both of which were new records for SS2. The Reaction Control System, feather re-entry system, and a thermal protection coating were successfully tested during the flight.  Read More

VSS Enterprise during its recent supersonic test flight

NBCUniversal has signed an exclusive partnership with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic to televise the space tourism company's first commercial passenger flight next August. Aboard the VSS Enterprise, will be Sir Richard, age 63, and his children, Holly, 31, and Sam, 28. The other passengers and crew have not yet been named.  Read More

Chris Hadfield in his time aboard the ISS (Image: Canadian Space Agency)

It's easy to naysay ambitious plans, and they don't come more ambitious than Virgin Galactic's. But astronaut Chris Hadfield has some authority on the subject. Though his views, revealed in a Guardian interview, are nuanced, they come with this sobering assessment: "Eventually they'll crash one."  Read More

SpaceShipTwo broke the altitude and speed record that it set in April

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo (SS2) broke its own speed and altitude records on Thursday as it successfully completed its second rocket-powered, supersonic flight. At 8:00 AM PDT, SS2 took off slung beneath the WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) carrier aircraft from Virgin Galactic’s Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California. According to the company, the tourism spacecraft went through its full technical mission profile in a single flight for the first time, including the deployment of its “feathering” re-entry mechanism at high altitude.  Read More

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