Virgin aims for first space launch within a year

Sep 15, 2011
The Virgin Galactic VSS Enterprise spacecraft prepares to make it's first public landing during the Spaceport America event in New Mexico on October 22, 2010. British business magnate Richard Branson hopes to launch a vessel into space within the next 12 months, kicking off an era of commercial space travel.

British business magnate Richard Branson hopes to launch a vessel into space within the next 12 months, kicking off an era of commercial space travel.

"The mother ship is finished... The rocket tests are going extremely well, and so I think that we're now on track for a launch within 12 months of today," he told CNN's Piers Morgan late Wednesday.

"This could be the beginning of a whole new era of space travel, which will be ."

His company, Virgin Galactic, hopes to one day send people into space and launch satellites for a fraction of the cost of government-run programs, as well as eventually offering high-speed intercontinental flights.

"About an hour between Los Angeles and London is not completely out of the question," Branson said, adding that it will likely take many years before the company can offer such a service.

In the meantime, Virgin has sold some 430 tickets for space travel -- at $200,000 a pop -- for an estimated $86 million.

"It's not a cheap thing to build a spaceship company and it's been fantastic to have people all over the world sign up," Branson said.

The company plans to begin by taking tourists on sub orbital flights before eventually soaring higher. Branson has said in the past he hopes to one day build a hotel in space.

A number of private companies are rushing to fill the gap left by NASA, which ended its 30-year in July with the completion of the final to the (ISS).

Earlier this year, the US space agency distributed nearly $270 million in seed money to four companies -- Boeing, , Sierra Nevada and Blue Origin -- to boost their bids to be first in the new space era.

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User comments : 27

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Tenche
5 / 5 (4) Sep 15, 2011
WOHO!
ScottyB
2.3 / 5 (6) Sep 15, 2011
Great news! cant wait to see where they go with this, if they can get orbital and build hotels in space too!!!

Wow wee!
DiverseByDesign
5 / 5 (2) Sep 15, 2011
That is great news! 12 months away, approx. The private space industry is growing everyday and it is just a matter of time before we discuss things like this as if they were every day things. Just wait, the time is coming.
Ethelred
3 / 5 (4) Sep 15, 2011
It takes a LOT more fuel to reach low Earth orbit. Thirty times the energy is what I have seen claimed. Which means even more than thirty times the fuel no matter how efficient you are.

Notice that they are not on NASA's list for seed money.

Ethelred
Magnette
5 / 5 (6) Sep 15, 2011

Notice that they are not on NASA's list for seed money.

Ethelred


Did you notice that all four companies listed on the seed list are American? I suspect Nasa are setting financial boundaries that include geographical limitations.

Virgin is a Brit company so I would have thought that Nasa (probably rightfully so) would expect the Euro Space Agency to stump up any seed money.
Resonance
5 / 5 (5) Sep 15, 2011
On Morgan he said they are opening the door and orienting their future plans towards fast intercontinental travel. They used the example of going from Los Angleles to London(UK) in 1 hour. Imagine how fun the plane ride would be. We live in an amazing era... now if we could only grow fast cheap multilayered nanotubes of any length.
Nanobanano
2 / 5 (7) Sep 15, 2011
Earlier this year, the US space agency distributed nearly $270 million in seed money to four companies -- Boeing, SpaceX, Sierra Nevada and Blue Origin -- to boost their bids to be first in the new space era.


Wow. Can I get some "seed money" from the government to start a business?

My God, for that much money, you could build several hospitals or universities.
Nanobanano
1.4 / 5 (9) Sep 15, 2011
On Morgan he said they are opening the door and orienting their future plans towards fast intercontinental travel. They used the example of going from Los Angleles to London(UK) in 1 hour. Imagine how fun the plane ride would be. We live in an amazing era... now if we could only grow fast cheap multilayered nanotubes of any length.


Not really, it's a pointless, highly inefficient waste of resources.

In fact, our nations and businesses have been going quite the wrong way with mass transit for quite some time now.

Kinetic energy formula and air resistance show us that going faster is a supreme waste of fuel.

Even shipping companies have taken a clue, and cut their speeds by 10% to save on fuel costs, because it reached the point where taking 10% more shipments doesn't pay for the increased fuel costs of the extra speed to make extra trips.

Similarly, having a passenger train which goes 300mph is useless, as it takes roughly 16 times more fuel than 75mph...
Vendicar_Decarian
1.3 / 5 (4) Sep 15, 2011
It would be truly interesting news if Virgin's craft could actually get high enough to claim to have gone into space.

However it won't even get half way there.
Nanobanano
2.2 / 5 (9) Sep 15, 2011
Basicly, these companies will all go bust.

They'll get a few fares in the first few years from rich thrill seekers, and then this fad will get old and go bust, because they won't be able to make enough money to break even.

Ordinary airlines often aren't profitable, how do you expect something to be profitable with a much higher costs in overhead, when only a few ridiculously rich people will be able to afford to ride even one time, nevermind regularly?

This is exactly the kind of junk science the government should not be funding.

the government should also not be funding gimmicks, fads, and over-priced amusement park rides either.
krundoloss
4.4 / 5 (7) Sep 15, 2011
Yes its overpriced, new technology always is. And yes it is pretty wasteful for rich people to go into sub-orbit. And yes, these companies will likely fail. But we have to do something, people. The government has lost interest in pursuing space travel, but Mankind will not. These are just steps toward the future, we need these companies to do what they can, no matter how futile, so that we can see our space travel dreams come true eventually.
Nanobanano
2 / 5 (6) Sep 15, 2011
The government has lost interest in pursuing space travel, but Mankind will not. These are just steps toward the future, we need these companies to do what they can, no matter how futile, so that we can see our space travel dreams come true eventually.


the reason the government sucks at space travel is because our by-laws forbid the government from doing anything that would be profitable, and the republicans would have an absolute FIT if the government did something with the potential to be legitimately profitable, such as space mining.

So basically what happens is the government took tax payer dollars to develop space technology, and then they gave this technology and free money away to "teachers pet" capitalist corporations who will then attempt to establish space monopolies.

Nothing could be more unconstitutional than that, because they took everyone's money and used it to give all the technology to special interest companies...
Nanobanano
3 / 5 (8) Sep 15, 2011
But yes, the republicans would scream "socialism" if the government developed a space mining program. They'd go nuts and have a coup, because of their insane philosophy that government shouldn't be in business or energy sectors.

Lincoln called it a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people," but modern republicans want no government at all, and let the corporations and banks dictate everything to everyone through currency scams and wage scams.

Government should serve PEOPLE, not corporations or businesses. Those are not "people," they are abstract entities owned by a small sub-set of people, and usually a majority or near-majority share is owned by one person or family.

The modern republican has everything backwards.

if the government was allowed to operate profitable industries, then taxation wouldn't even be necessary in some cases. and the PEOPLE would own it, not some lucky tyccoon.
Nanobanano
2.1 / 5 (7) Sep 15, 2011
Imagine if the government was able to operate a space mining company harvesting rare-earths and other precious metals from asteroids. And let's say they were 25% profitable by selling the metal to production companies.

Do you realize they wouldn't even need taxes at all?

If the Republicans REALLY wanted to end taxes, then getting into space mining, or having the government buy out all the energy companies and make a few trillion worth of wind farms would END taxes, because the energy would be CHEAPER, and they could run the entire government on the profit margin of the energy company, without taxation...

Everyone would profit enormously from this, well, everyone except the existing top 1% of wealthy people...

But dumbass Ron Paul and Rick Perry are the leading republican candidates...go figure...
krundoloss
4 / 5 (6) Sep 15, 2011
Whats so bad about Socialism anyway? Obviously Democracy is a great idea, but it doesnt work because it just becomes Capitalism! People think we shouldn't let the government run too much, but atleast they can be held accountable, unlike CEO's who never have any consequences for anything they do, EVER!
Nanobanano
2.5 / 5 (6) Sep 15, 2011
I mean some stuff is just more practical and would make more sense if the government did it.

I don't get to vote for who owns the local power company monopoly, or who owns the local cable company monopoly. My only choice is to either have electricity and cable, or not, as satellite sucks anyway...

But I do get to vote for president, senate, and representatives.

Therefore, if the government owned the power companies, the U.S. would actually be more democratic than it is presently.

Presently, the power companies and the cable companies and the ISP are "miniature dictatorships" operating inside our country.
GDM
2.8 / 5 (4) Sep 15, 2011
Republicans believe that the "govenment IS the problem", yet the government exists by the vote and will of the people (well, the voting public anyway). So, we informed voters are the problem? Apparently so, as the republicans are trying already to steal the next election by resorting to anti-voter laws and changes in the electoral system (which should be abolished immediately in favor of direct election of the president.) Forewarned is forearmed.
Silverhill
5 / 5 (1) Sep 15, 2011
(Resonance)
We live in an amazing era... now if we could only grow fast cheap multilayered nanotubes of any length.
(Nanobanano)
Not really, it's a pointless, highly inefficient waste of resources.
I think that Resonance was anticipating a beanstalk cable: http://en.wikiped...or#Cable
jonnyboy
1.4 / 5 (9) Sep 15, 2011
It would be truly interesting news if Virgin's craft could actually get high enough to claim to have gone into space.

However it won't even get half way there.


Have you EVER been right about ANYTHING? You never did say that you have stopped molesting little boys, have you?
GreyLensman
not rated yet Sep 15, 2011

Notice that they are not on NASA's list for seed money.

Ethelred


Did you notice that all four companies listed on the seed list are American? I suspect Nasa are setting financial boundaries that include geographical limitations.

Virgin is a Brit company so I would have thought that Nasa (probably rightfully so) would expect the Euro Space Agency to stump up any seed money.

I don't think that Virgin's craft is anything that can be developed past sub-orbital. It's low, slow and very,very fragile. On a real re-entry those feathered wings would disintegrate.
GDM
5 / 5 (2) Sep 15, 2011
Uh, SpaceShip one crossed the internationally defined border of space (Karman Line) which is 100km (62 miles). SpaceShip 2 will fly to 110 km and reach mach 3 (for a short period of time). Take the flight, and you get your astronaut's wings (really!). It was never intended to reaqch orbit. That will come several years from now, perhaps.
Pkunk_
1 / 5 (1) Sep 16, 2011
Earlier this year, the US space agency distributed nearly $270 million in seed money to four companies -- Boeing, SpaceX, Sierra Nevada and Blue Origin -- to boost their bids to be first in the new space era.


Wow. Can I get some "seed money" from the government to start a business?

My God, for that much money, you could build several hospitals or universities.


Who's going to employ the engineers / graduates your "universities" will churn out ?

You need innovation and bleeding edge businesses like these for the next and ultimate frontier - space. And a lot of people'll get jobs if the price of going out there drops to < $10,000 .
Pkunk_
1 / 5 (1) Sep 16, 2011
Republicans believe that the "govenment IS the problem", yet the government exists by the vote and will of the people (well, the voting public anyway). So, we informed voters are the problem? Apparently so, as the republicans are trying already to steal the next election by resorting to anti-voter laws and changes in the electoral system (which should be abolished immediately in favor of direct election of the president.) Forewarned is forearmed.


Not being American I wouldn't know much about the republicans.

But one that I have is experience living in a country where the government controlled the "commanding heights" of the economy , and where socialism has been put into practise. And from personal experience - "Power corrupts" and socailism puts power in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats.

After reforms and the rapid growth that followed , everyone thinks socialism isn't that great an idea anymore.
Vendicar_Decarian
3 / 5 (2) Sep 16, 2011
"After reforms and the rapid growth that followed , everyone thinks socialism isn't that great an idea anymore." - Pkunk

Out of the pot and into the fire.
Eric_B
5 / 5 (1) Sep 17, 2011
After the corruption sinks in and The Brave New World fails to show itself as brave, new or KIND, everyone thinks that Capitalism isn't such a great idea anymore...
gimpypoet
1 / 5 (1) Sep 17, 2011
lets make the gov't work for us. lets stop paying politicians their saleries and see who takes the jobs they run from. party doesn't matter to them, keeping/getting more money is. unpaid public office would would stop corruption and greed, and then those who take office will work for the people. i would invite them to dinner, resurants would pay their tabs and respect of their fellow citizen would be an honor. partisan politics should at the least be outlawed, because this gives the the excuse to disagree. big bucks driving science is the same as the big bucks that have driven religion, both should be replaced in modern society. their power should be debased like the dollar has been. george washing didn't take money to lead, but did get rich on the incentives he earned. he made wiskey and owned lands, ran his own businesses to make his own, that is where we need to go, do not pay public officials, and tax people fairly, by percentage, no breaks .
maxcypher
5 / 5 (1) Sep 18, 2011
Don't expect fairness because it's all evolutionary. We are a thin biotic film swirling on the surface of an insignificant mud ball floating in an inconceivably huge 'multi'-universe. The sense of self which creates all this greed and violence is an evolutionary adaptation that drives this biotic film into ever more complex and 'dense' patterns of organization. Tribes, religions, nations, governments, corporations, and whatever comes next, are temporary structures created ("grown") so that 'life' can send feeding tendrils into the vast energy resources of the Solar System. IMO