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Virgin Galactic

Started by Taman Tun, February 22, 2014, 11:17:26 AM

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Taman Tun

Once again Richard Branson is predicting that later this year. Virgin Galactic will carry the first fare paying passengers into space.  Richard has been promising to do this every year since 2007.  Over this time. He has collected payments of USD 250,000 from almost 700 individuals to ensure a flight booking. Something in the region of USD 150 million.  His rocket motor consists of a rubber lined metal tube into which nitrous oxide is injected. The rubber and nitrous oxide burn and supposedly propel the vehicle into space. So far this motor has not produced sufficient power to propel the vehicle to the required altitude.  Indeed on a recent test flight the vehicle trailed clouds of black smoke.  This is just what you might expect when burning tyres.  Given the apparent lack of a suitable rocket motor then uncharitable souls might possibly suggest that Branson is engaging in a massive fraud by collecting USD150 million in advance fares for an unproven product.
There is an article in the Guardian today:- http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/feb/21/jon-ronson-virgin-galactic-richard-branson-future-atronauts

Also, Tom Bower has some interesting things to say on the subject.
If the old only could, if the young only knew.


I'm offering a better space flight for only $150,000. It will circumnavigate earth four times and pause for an afternoon Cornish cream tea whilst lucky travellers observe the moon. David Bowie has already expressed interest. Take off is early next April.

PM me for payment terms.

Taman Tun

A work colleague subscribes to Private Eye and he just loaned me the latest issue.  There is an interesting snippet on Branson. Also, Yobettes cartoon thrown in for good measure.
If the old only could, if the young only knew.


Those featured in the cartoon are Essex Girls.

An old one:

How does an Essex girl turn on the light after sex?

She opens the Cortina door.


Q. Why does an Essex girl wear knickers?
A. To keep her ankles warm.

Taman Tun

How do you make an Essex girl laugh on Monday?

You tell her a joke on Friday.
If the old only could, if the young only knew.


Q. What's the difference between an Essex girl and an ironing board?

A. Occasionally you have trouble getting the legs apart on an ironing board.

Taman Tun

Johnnie, I strongly urge you to impose a life-time ban on anyone posting Essex girl jokes on this forum.
If the old only could, if the young only knew.


the earliest light of day

Taman Tun

If the old only could, if the young only knew.


TT, what is the reason for your empathy with Essex girls?

Q. What is the difference between a supermarket trolley and an Essex girl?

A. A supermarket trolley has a mind of its own.

Taman Tun

If the old only could, if the young only knew.


Q. What's the difference between an Essex girl and a washing machine?

A. You can dump your load in a washing machine without it following you around whining for a week.

Taman Tun

It is now "later in the year" and still no sign of space flights by Branson's Virgin Galactic.  I cannot understand why Branson hasn't been arrested for fraud.

This is from the paper we are not supposed to read:-

Deep in the American West lies a vast, arid desert plain known as ‘Jordana de Muerto’, or ‘Journey of the Dead Man’. The desolate, sun-beaten expanse of deepest New Mexico is flat and deeply inhospitable.
Yet it is here, four hours’ drive from Albuquerque, that a security gate marks the entrance to perhaps the world’s most spectacular white elephant.
Talk your way in and you’ll find a huge futuristic glass, steel and concrete building designed by the superstar architect Sir Norman Foster.
Nearby sits a spanking new 12,000ft runway, a large fuel depot, vast electrical substations, and a state-of-the-art weather observatory.
The extraordinary array of facilities, called Spaceport America, was built on an 18,000-acre patch of remote ranch-land between 2006 and 2011.
No expense was spared. Indeed, it cost local taxpayers, who footed the entire bill, almost a quarter of a billion U.S. dollars.
Remarkably, every penny of this huge sum, every brick that was laid, and every tonne of publicly-funded concrete poured into the desert, has been devoted to a singular cause: putting Sir Richard Branson into space.
Back in 2005, the British billionaire convinced New Mexico’s Governor, Bill Richardson, to finance the entire construction of Spaceport America on the basis that it would become the bustling headquarters of his ambitious new space tourism company, Virgin Galactic.
The $225 million (£138 million) cost of construction was therefore, Branson argued, less an expense, more a canny investment.
It would put New Mexico at the epicentre of a great technological leap forward which was, under Sir Richard’s stewardship, about to reshape the global travel and transport industries.

Virgin Galactic had committed itself to launching at least 100 space flights a year from Spaceport America from 2010 onwards, they were told.
Travellers passing through would include Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt and Paris Hilton â€" just a few of the host of celebrities reputed to have purchased tickets for a two-hour journey, during which they would experience five minutes of weightlessness.
When Branson convinced New Mexico's Governor Bill Richardson to allow him to build Spaceport America in 2005, the state's residents were told 100 space flights a year would be taking place in just five years' time
By 2015, there would be 700 flights a year, with Branson’s craft blasting off from the sun-baked Tarmac twice daily. 50,000 space tourists would use the facility its first 10 years, along with hundreds of thousands of free-spending visitors.
Together, they would spend tens of millions of dollars, and create, according to Richardson, at least 3,000 new jobs by 2015.
At the Spaceport’s official launch, in the state capital of Santa Fe in December 2005, an ebullient Branson stood at a spotlit lectern brandishing a toy spaceship.
‘We’re going where no man has gone before!’ he declared. ‘We may even be able to allow those aliens who landed at [nearby] Roswell 50 years ago in a UFO a chance to go home!’
Assembled journalists were informed that Virgin Galactic was on course to send customers into space by ‘2008 or early 2009’.
That was then. Today? Well, it’s safe to say that things haven’t turned out as planned.
SpaceShipTwo (model pictured), a prototype of the craft that was supposed to be propelling customers into orbit twice daily, is grounded at a development facility in California
New Mexico dutifully managed to keep its side of the bargain. Indeed, major building work on Spaceport America was completed four years ago.
Sir Richard Branson, on the other hand, most certainly did not.
In fact, nine years after that cheery press conference, he still hasn’t taken a single tourist into space.
Six years after the proposed lift-off date, Virgin Galactic doesn’t even have a working spaceship.
Instead, SpaceShipTwo, a prototype of the craft that’s supposed to be propelling customers into orbit twice daily, is sitting on terra firma at a development facility in California.
It last took a powered test flight in January. In its three such journeys so far, it reached just 71,000ft â€" less than a quarter of its supposed target altitude of 320,000ft.
A modified engine, developed this year, has yet to complete a single powered journey.
I gather, meanwhile, that Virgin Galactic’s application to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration for a licence to take passengers into space has been quietly put on hold.
Customers are duly growing restless. According to a report last weekend, Sir Richard is facing a ‘backlash’ from some of the nearly 700 passengers who have already paid up to $250,000 (£153,000) for a ticket on the craft.
Some stumped up the fee as long ago as 2005, but still have no idea when they will eventually reach space.
A few have died, or grown too old for travel. Several have asked for money back, including the venture capitalist Alan Walton, who gave up on the project on his 75th birthday.
The aircraft last took a powered test flight in January. In its three such journeys so far, it reached just 71,000ft â€" less than a quarter of its supposed target altitude of 320,000ft
Others fear Virgin Galactic, whose passenger contracts promise only to reach an altitude of 50 miles, may never be able to take passengers to its supposed target of the 60-mile-high Karman Line, an internationally accepted boundary where the Earth’s atmosphere meets Space.
‘If they don’t get above 60 miles, I will certainly be withdrawing my money,’ one customer told the Sunday Times. ‘I don’t think you can be considered an astronaut unless you cross that line.’
The firm, which has taken a reputed $80 million (£50 million) in ticket sales via roughly 140 accredited salesmen, has meanwhile parted company with high-profile staff members.
They include Jim Tighe, SpaceShipTwo’s lead designer (who left last week but will return ‘periodically’ to the project).
Over at Spaceport America, $225 million-worth of buildings are, therefore, still sitting largely empty. Norman Foster’s snazzy terminal, which should be packed with visitors, contains little more than unfinished concrete and steel; it’s waiting to have its interior fitted out.
According to Reuters, a grand total of ten jobs have so far actually been created on the site for local residents. That’s 0.33 per cent of the number that was originally promised. And works out at $22.5 million per job.
‘It’s just a white elephant sitting out in the desert eating up taxpayer dollars,’ says Paul Gessing, of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation think tank.
‘New Mexico is a poor state. It has some of the highest poverty levels and lowest income levels in America. And its taxpayers are now subsidising a billionaire, Richard Branson, who wants to make money flying millionaires into space.
According to a report last weekend, Sir Richard is facing a ‘backlash’ from some of the nearly 700 passengers who have already paid up to $250,000 (£153,000) for a ticket on the craft
Arturo Uribe, a community activist who has long campaigned against the 0.25 per cent sales tax that residents are still paying to fund the project, adds: ‘Every time I hear that guy Branson say he’s going to fly soon, I think: “Yeah, right!” We’ve been watching this for years. Where are the jobs?’
And Dede Feldman, a former state senator who opposed the project while in office because ‘the whole thing seemed too gimmicky’, believes Virgin Galactic is now ‘getting away with highway robbery’.
Against this critical backdrop, the public utterances of Sir Richard, who has promised to be SpaceShipTwo’s first civilian passenger, are instructive.
He spent last year, for example, insisting that he would go into space on December 25, 2013, saying: ‘Maybe I’ll dress up as Father Christmas!’
Then, in February 2014, he changed tack, claiming to instead be ‘three or four months’ from lift off.
That didn’t happen, so in July, Virgin Galactic tweeted that it was ‘on the road to spaceflight later this year’.
Finally, on U.S. chat-show host David Letterman’s sofa last week, Branson remarked that he was now aiming for ‘February or March next year’.
Doubtless the 64-year-old entrepreneur believes his own promises. His sunny optimism is, after all, central to the buccaneering spirit that has, over the years, helped launch airlines, cola brands, record labels and mobile phones.
But the constantly-shifting goalposts don’t exactly inspire confidence.
Branson’s senior staff, despite recent setbacks, meanwhile remain adamant that they are in the final stages of achieving lift off.
‘When are we going to go? We have internal schedules, and I think that the answer is “soon”,’ George Whitesides, Virgin Galactic’s CEO, told me this week.
‘I think what you will see this autumn is a rapid series of test flights at a much higher cadence than in the past. We’ve been getting ready for this big push. So I think the answer is “months” and beyond that our general policy is to avoid setting exact dates.’
SpaceShipTwo (the central fuselage) is carried by its mothership, WhiteKnightTwo
Others aren’t so sure, though. Indeed, even some of Branson’s most loyal supporters are now questioning his ability to put punters into space in the timeframe he has trumpeted.
Take Pat Hynes, the director of the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium. She estimates that Branson is unlikely to take tourists to space until 2018 or 2019.
‘Given their pattern of powered test flights, [with a] current timetable of eight to nine months between them, and the fact that they need at least 20 powered flights before they operate, that’s my educated guess,’ she says.
Hynes speaks as an academic expert on space travel, who strongly supports Branson’s project, saying it will help ‘make great leaps forward in human knowledge’.
‘I don’t believe he’s a Bernie Madoff figure,’ she adds, referring to the convicted fraudster behind a $65 billion (£40 billion) Ponzi scheme.
‘Customers who have asked for their money back have got it back immediately. He’s not a conman. He wants this to happen. But I think we are looking at another four years.’
Take also Julian Bray, one of Britain’s most prominent aviation experts. He points out that Virgin Galactic has created an entirely new system of launching and powering an aircraft.
‘Realistically, the testing and flight type-approval process could take up to a decade from the point where the initial flight cycles have been proven,’ he says.
‘You have to go back to the development of the Comet jet airliner in the late Fifties and early Sixties to get an idea of how long a completely new design and type of propulsion concept takes before fare-paying passengers are allowed on board.’
That would take us until 2024, so far beyond Virgin Galactic’s current projected start date that it feels almost laughable.

The Virgin Galactic took its maiden 54-minute flight from Mojave Air and Spaceport, California, in 2010
Yet, when it comes to space tourism, Sir Richard has form for missing the mark by an awfully long way. It was 1999, for example, when he first announced he’d registered the company Virgin Galactic, and hoped to build a hotel in space.
‘I hope in five years a reusable rocket will have been developed which can take up to 10 people at a time to stay at the Virgin Hotel for two weeks,’ Branson said in a webchat. ‘I’d love to do it.’
Those five years came and went. In 2004, he called a glitzy press conference in London to announce that Virgin Galactic would soon begin signing up customers, with a view to commencing commercial space flights by 2007.
But by 2005, that timeframe had shifted to 2008. And in 2007, after three of the technicians died in an explosion during testing in California, it moved again to 2010.
In 2009, I was one of hundreds of journalists bussed into the Mojave desert to witness the unveiling of SpaceShipTwo at a star-studded party where we were served flavoured vodka in glasses made from ice.
An excited Branson told how, when flights began in 2011, SpaceShipTwo would be taken on a carrier aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo, to 48,000ft, before blasting into space under its own steam.
Passengers would experience five minutes of weightlessness, and extraordinary views of Earth, before gliding back down.
Space tourism would revolutionise travel, he claimed, allowing us one day to fly from London to Sydney, via the stratosphere, in a couple of hours.
As the craft was unveiled to beating dance music under flashing disco lights, Branson turned to the crowd: ‘Isn’t that the sexiest spaceship ever?’
Maybe. But 2011 came without him taking customers to space.
In a TV interview on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories, Branson pushed back his timetable to 2012: ‘Rocket tests are going extremely well and so I think that we’re now on track for a launch within 12 months,’ he said.
By 2012, the target had shifted to 2013, however. And, in a now-familiar pattern, it has continued to slide ever since.
Virgin Galactic chief executive George Whitesides is adamant, however, that Sir Richard’s dream of space tourism remains within reach.
‘If you look at the universe of aerospace projects, it’s not unusual for people to be a bit optimistic,’ he said.
‘As the CEO, and knowing what I know, I think we’re very close now. I think it’s months away. But we don’t want to rush. Our priority has always been to do things right, because this a complex project.’
Indeed. It is, after all, rocket science.
If the old only could, if the young only knew.


Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Taman Tun

Thaiga, check the trail of black smoke about 1:25 into the video. Burning types or what?
If the old only could, if the young only knew.


Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Taman Tun

Yup, no smoke with the fuel grain but it did not leave the ground!
If the old only could, if the young only knew.


Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Sir Richard Branson is Britain's most admired business leader, according to a poll of top bosses.

The Virgin tycoon was voted the runaway winner by a survey of FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 chairmen, chief executives and chief financial officers, non-executive directors, lawyers, accountants and headhunters.

The runners up in the poll published today in Sunday Times Business were the vacuum cleaner designer Sir James Dyson and the late Lord Weinstock, who built GEC into an electrical and engineering empire.

Dominic O'Connell, business editor of The Sunday Times, said: "This is the authentic insider's view on who has made the biggest impact on British business over the past five decades. We asked business leaders to rate their peers - and Branson came out on top by a good margin.

"He has his critics, but this is a tribute to his longevity, and his impact across a big number of industries."

The poll also showed a "marked predilection for industrialists", he said, adding: "Our highest-rated businesspeople included Sir James Dyson of vacuum cleaner fame, Sir Ernest Harrison, the man who brought us the mobile phone, and Arnold Weinstock, the former boss of GEC. Away from manufacturing, the stars were Sir Terry Leahy of Tesco and Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP."

The poll comes a week ahead of the newspaper's business section's 50th anniversary.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Taman Tun

Probably the people who voted for him were discredited functionaries of some of our noble banks like RBS or could it have been Tesco? Extract from the Guardian below. Never underestimate the efficiency of the Branson PR machine.

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the financial markets, the world economy, business and finance.

Some breaking news is shaking the City this morning. Tesco has just announced that it has overstated its profit forecasts for the second half of this year, by a jaw-dropping £250m.

In a surprise announcement, Tesco’s new chief executive Dave Lewis warned that a “serious issue” has been uncovered in the company’s most recent profit warning, released a month ago.

According to Lewis, those results - released on - 29 August - were flawed because they “accelerated” the recognition of commercial income but “delayed” the accrual of costs.

That means that Tesco’s profit target of £1.1bn was unduly optimistic; it should actually have been closer to £850m, or around half the previous year.

It’s a remarkable admission from one of Britain’s biggest companies, which has already issued three profit warnings this year as it struggles to shore up its market share.
If the old only could, if the young only knew.


the earliest light of day

Taman Tun

If the old only could, if the young only knew.


Don't leave it to late :)

Charter Price â€" There are 6 seats on each flight priced individually at $250k. The earlier you book the better, as the flight order is based on your date of payment. The full amount is due at the time of booking in order to confirm your flight.

Timeline â€" We are well underway in the test flight program and have begun powered test flights! We aim to fly the inaugural flight with Richard Branson and his family in 2014. Passenger flights will begin after that.

Location and Training - Three days prior to your flight you will be required to travel to Spaceport America in New Mexico, the world’s first purpose-built spaceport. You will receive all the necessary preparation needed for your spaceflight, which will happen on the fourth day.

The ticket price includes your training, accommodations, spaceflight, photography and transportation for the duration of your stay at SpacePort America (4 days). You are responsible for flying into New Mexico however we take it from there once you land!

The flight begins with SpaceShip2 attached to a larger carrier craft, WhiteKnight2, which will climb to ~55,000' (flying altitude of the Concorde). This portion takes about an hour and will be a comfortable, easy ride. Carrying six passengers and two pilots, the spaceship is then released and the hybrid-fuel rocket is fired, launching you into space at Mach 3.5, taking you to an altitude of ~110km in 65-75 seconds (past the international space line).

The engine will then turn off and you’ll experience total serenity, weightlessness and awe as you look back at the Earth from space. After about 10 minutes in space, the feathering technology will deploy, positioning you for the optimum angle at which to return to the Earth’s atmosphere.

The descent includes G forces up to Gx 6, and once back in our atmosphere you’ll comfortably glide back down to the same runway at Spaceport America, taking another hour and fifteen minutes. Total travel time: 2.5 hours.

Virgin Galactic passenger list for flights beginning 2014 include Bradd Pitt, Angelina Jolie,Michael Schumacher,Holly,Richard Branson, British Royalty and YOU

Below is an up-to-date list of all known space tourists who have booked a flight with Virgin Galactic.

Bon Voyage

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Taman Tun

In summer 2015 I am starting a passenger service to Mars.  The first flight leaves on 1 June 2015.  You can secure a seat by simply paying $1 million.  The strange thing is that if I were to make such an offer then I would be quickly arrested for fraud.  How does Branson get away with it?
If the old only could, if the young only knew.


I see Michael Schumacher is on the Galactic list - Get well mate

Michael Schumacher latest: F1 star 'cared for by 24/7 medical team costing £100,000 a week'

Formula One hero Michael Schumacher is surrounded by a 15-strong medical team battling 24 hours a day at a specially-built clinic at his Swiss mansion home.

Care costs are estimated to run at over £100,000 pounds a week in wage bills and medical equipment rental.

The Lausanne rehabilitation clinic which Schumacher, 45, left last week to return home 254 days after suffering catastrophic head injuries during a ski holiday confirmed it has trained-up the experts now attempting to get the seven-times world champion to live a normal life.

A spokesman for the clinic said: "A large part of the team that cares for Michael now was trained by our specialists.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


        Apart from Virgin Galactic there are another 4 companies who are going for lift off


                      5 spaceflight companies looking to get there soon

                  XCOR Aerospace - Blue Origin - Masten Space Science Systems and Armadillo Aerospace

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Taman Tun

There was a story in the UK press today that Branson has delayed the first flight with his family until next spring.  This is never going to happen as his spacecraft will have to make many test flights before it can be certified for passenger carrying trips.  Still it postpones the evil day of having to pay back all those $250,000 deposits.  Standby for the next announcement next spring:- Flights now delayed until autumn 2015.
If the old only could, if the young only knew.


Virgin Galactic spacecraft crash

One pilot has been killed and another is seriously injured after a Virgin Galactic spacecraft crashed on a powered test flight over California's Mojave Desert.

The tragedy occurred after SpaceShipTwo fired up its rocket following a high-altitude drop from Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo mothership.

The co-pilot suffered moderate to major injuries when he ejected from the rocket plane and parachuted to the ground.

Virgin Galactic, part of British billionaire Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group, was aiming to begin tourist flights to the edge of space next year.

Company chief executive George Whitesides told a news conference: "Space is hard and today was a tough day."

Stuart Witt, chief executive of the space port, said the cause of the crash was not clear.

Sir Richard said his thoughts were with all those at Virgin Galactic and partner business Scaled Composites.

"Thanks for all your messages of support," he tweeted. "I'm flying to Mojave immediately to be with the team."

He is expected to arrive on Saturday morning.

The company said earlier in a statement to Sky News that SpaceShipTwo had "suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of the vehicle".

WhiteKnightTwo landed safely.

Virgin Galactic said it would work with the authorities to determine the cause of the accident. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.

It is the second disaster involving a US spacecraft this week.

On Tuesday,  another private company's unmanned rocket exploded six seconds after launch on a resupply mission to the International Space Station.

Virgin Galactic's 60ft (18 metre) long SpaceShipTwo was testing a redesigned rocket motor as it made its first powered flight since January.

The rocket plane, which was attached to the underside of WhiteKnightTwo, took off at 9:19am local time (4:19pm GMT) on Friday from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California.

It is not the first accident involving SpaceShipTwo.

During testing for the development of its rocket motor in July 2007, an explosion at the Mojave spaceport killed three workers and critically injured three others.

It is the commercial version of SpaceShipOne, the first private spacecraft to reach the edge of space in 2004, now on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC.

Virgin Galactic aims to become the world's first commercial "spaceline", sending customers willing to pay up to $250,000 (£156,000) for a short journey into zero gravity and a glimpse of the planet from the edge of space.

The company previously said it has accepted more than $80m (£50m) in deposits from hundreds of people who hope to be among the first space tourists.

British physicist Stephen Hawking, comedian Russell Brand, actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Ashton Kutcher, and singer Justin Bieber are said to have signed up.

After launching from New Mexico, it is envisaged that each spaceship will take six passengers on a journey of between two and three hours just over 62 miles (100km) from Earth.

Sir Richard has said he hopes eventually to build a hotel in space.


The Guardian


 Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic commercial space-travel programme has been plagued with problems and delays. After a string of failures, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield last year said that the difficulties of aerospace engineering meant it was inevitable that at some point a Virgin Galactic craft would crash.


                                          Virgin Galactic spaceship crash in Mojave desert

Virgin Galactic spaceship crash in Mojave desert - the remains of the spacecraft - October 31 2014
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

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