Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Want to travel to space?

Virgin Galactic has sold out their initial offering of the first 500 seats on SpaceShipTwo, a sub-orbital craft expected to begin regular service to space in 2016.
“Virgin Galactic Founder Sir Richard Branson revealed that the company has now accepted deposits for suborbital flights on SpaceShipTwo from 529 future astronauts, a number greater than the total count of people who have been to space throughout human history.”
The price for being one of these pioneers was $200K USD. However, reservations for future sub-orbital flights are expected to be $20K. Orbital flights are also being planned.
I’m borrowing today’s gankimage from the Mars Society’s Facebook Page:
If you missed out on one of Virgin Galactic’s premiere seats, there’s still time to head out to West Texas and hitch a ride on Blue Origin’s New Shepard crew capsule. Founded by Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin keeps a low profile. After three successful launches in recent years, Blue Origin suffered their first real setback in 2011 with an unsuccessful launch. News of Blue’s current itinerary is sketchy, although they announced successful completion of a System Requirements Review (SRR) in May, 2012. According to the press release:
Blue Origin is maturing the design of the Space Vehicle in partnership with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) under the agency’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program. The (SRR) review assessed the Space Vehicle’s ability to meet safety and mission requirements, and evaluated the technical readiness of the design, the concept of operations, the feasibility of project development plans, and planned verification activities. The review also included results from recently completed wind tunnel tests of the biconic shape, validating the vehicle’s aerodynamic design, stability and cross-range.
The New Shepard is a vertical launch assembly, currently using the Atlas V rocket. Think Apollo, Gemini, Galilleo, and the Shuttle. By contrast, it should be noted that Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo uses an in-flight launch system - jetting off from a heavy-lift aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo, propelled by a stage rocket called LauncherOne. If you saw the June launch of NuSTAR 1 from the carrier aircraft, Stargazer, you’ll have an idea of how WhiteKnightTwo operates.

Apropos of nothing, NuSTAR was launched from the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Which incidentally happens to be where I grew up.

Both Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic are now hiring.

  1. NuSTAR is the first focusing telescope to image the sky in the high energy X-ray (6 - 79 keV) region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Its initial mission is to take a census of collapsed stars and black holes and map material in young supernovae, among other objectives.

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