Over the weekend, with the large grin of Richard Branson to see it off, Virgin Galactic's second SpaceShipTwo, VSS Unity, completed its first free flight over the Mojave Desert.
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Space isn't just the next frontier for human exploration — apparently clothing brands are also looking towards the heavens. Today, Adidas revealed that its Y-3 brand will be working with Virgin Galactic to design not only the astronaut pilot's flight suits, but the outfits for everyone at Spaceport America. (For those not familiar with the brand, Y-3 is a fashion collaboration between Adidas and designer Yohji Yamamoto.)
Space tourism sounds pretty fun, if exorbitantly expensive. The ticket to ride is far from the only pricy thing about it. Building a spaceport for launches and returns costs hundreds of millions. So why does Sir Richard Branson now want to build one in the UK, right after finishing one in America — which isn't even sending folks to low orbit yet?
Hard to believe, but it's been one year since SpaceShipTwo disintegrated during a test flight, killing one pilot and seriously injuring the other. Undaunted by the tragedy, Virgin Galactic has been hard at work building the second version of the suborbital rocket plane — a slightly modified version that may finally usher in the era of space tourism.
An official investigation into the deadly crash of a Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo over California last October finds that a co-pilot unlocked the ship's braking system too early. The incident, according to the National Transportation and Safety Board's report, could have been prevented with better safety procedures.
Completed in October 2011, Spaceport America is an 18,000 acre commercial spaceport — the first of its kind in the world — that was going to be a major hub for SpaceX and Virgin Galactic, as each company toils away on developing the future of private spaceflight. It's been more than three years since opening, and New Mexico is still waiting for the payoff.
Investigators are still trying to figure out exactly what went wrong in the tragic crash of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo. While the National Transportation Safety Board has been looking into an issue with the braking system, the agency has released details from surviving pilot Peter Siebold about how he managed to escape the exploding spacecraft.
Yesterday, somewhere in the Mojave desert, investigators began the long process of understanding the events that led to the tragic accident that killed one pilot and left another injured. And even after they finish, plenty of questions about the future of the commercial space industry will remain. But the one we'll always know the answer to is if space travel is worth pursuing.
Virgin Galactic is reporting that there has been an "in-flight anomaly" aboard SpaceShipTwo. There were unconfirmed reports that one of the two pilots is dead. Those reports have now been confirmed. The suborbital flight took off at 9:19am PDT from the Mojave Air and Spaceport in California. Update: Virgin Galactic has confirmed that SpaceshipTwo has crashed and the California Highway Patrol has confirmed that there is one fatality and one major injury.
We've known about DARPA's plan to build a reusable, unmanned space plane for quite some time, but the agency just announced the companies that will help. Unsurprisingly, two feature famous billionaires who love space.
The UK may have a spaceport within four years — and it will probably be in the northern reaches of Scotland. The plan to have a UK spaceport up and running by 2018 is expected to be announced by the government's science minister this week, with six potential sites — four of which are in rural Scotland, where it won't matter so much if spaceplanes crash back to earth — on the shortlist.
Google is apparently in talks to buy up part of Virgin Galactic, but not to take a leisure cruise: Sky News claims that it will buy "crucial access to satellite-launch technology" to help put its new low-Earth orbiters into the sky.
It came to light earlier this year that despite promising to fly you through space Virgin Galactic didn't actually have Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval to take off from the US. Now, it has struck a deal, which should see it able to take to the skies.
Back in 2012, I saw a sign outside of a travel agency in Western Australia that filled my cold, black heart with glee. It was an ad for Virgin Galactic, with the implied promise that if I stepped inside that door, I could buy a flight to space from an "accredited space agent." I knew there was no way I could afford it, but just seeing that sign made me feel — however briefly — like I was living in the future. For those of us living here in the second decade of the 21st century, commercial space travel still usually feels like it's light years away.
"I'm interested in man's march into the unknown, but to vomit in space is not my idea of a good time. Neither is a fiery crash with the vomit hovering over me." — Star Trek legend William Shatner in 2006 when offered the future opportunity to ride Virgin Galactic
A new report about Virgin Galactic has taken a look at the small print in the customer contract that Virgin Galactic will give to those who choose to fly in the most ridiculous commercial aircraft ever — and it seems that they can't promise you'll make it into space.
If you're one of the 700 or so people who bought tickets to fly to outer space on Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic rockets, don't pack your space bags just yet: Smithsonian notes that the company doesn't have the Federal Aviation Administration permit required to take passengers to space.