Tag Archives: Richard Branson

Suborbital promises

Capitalism in space: Two stories today highlight the contrasts that presently exist within the still unborn suborbital tourist industry:

In the first, Richard Branson made another one of his bold predictions, the same kind of prediction he has been making about Virgin Galactic now for almost a decade. Again and again he claims, based on nothing, that his spaceship will be carrying people into orbit in mere months. It never happens. It won’t happen here.

In the second, Jeff Bezos announces that he hopes to fly people on his New Shepard suborbital spacecraft by 2018, but at the same time he also announces that the program is delayed.

Bezos, speaking in front of the company’s exhibit at the 33rd Space Symposium here that features the New Shepard propulsion module that flew five suborbital spaceflights in 2015 and 2016, backed away from earlier statements that called for flying people on test flights later this year. “We’re going to go through the test program, and we’ll put humans on it when we’re happy,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to be 2017 at this point. It could be.”

Bezos has been very careful, from the beginning, to make no bold or specific predictions about when his spacecraft will fly manned. Here, he is once again making it clear that any previously announced schedules were very tentative, and should not be taken too seriously.

Which person would you trust with your life on a suborbital flight?

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Richard Branson makes another prediction!

Promises, promises! Richard Branson today predicted that Virgin Galactic’s second SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceplane will begin flight tests in February 2016.

Forgive me if I am extremely skeptical. Branson has been making these kinds of promises now for more than a decade, none of which has come even close to coming true. I note this new prediction here merely to point out how bad his past predictions have been. Nowadays, I only believe Virgin Galactic is going to fly after they have do so.

Posted from Tucson International Airport, on the way to Mexico City for a week of sightseeing.

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Funding obtained for 648-satellite internet constellation

The competition heats up: A commercial effort to build a 648 constellation of satellites to provide worldwide intenet access has secured funding from Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Qualcom.

Not surprisingly, Branson was immediately saying that his LauncherOne concept will be launching many of these satellites, though I think he’s got to get it built and tested first.

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Another delay at Virgin Galactic

In an interview with David Letterman this week, Richard Branson admitted that his first flight on SpaceShipTwo will not be in December 2014 but early next year.

Watch the interview at the link. It is very clear that Branson is getting uncomfortable with the situation. He has made these claims too many times without showing any results. Also note the incredible ignorance exhibited by Letterman. A good interviewer has to ask some basic questions, but a good interviewer also needs to have a basic understanding of the subject. Letterman shows us here that he doesn’t know squat.

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Ground tests of SpaceShipTwo’s engines continue.

Ground tests of SpaceShipTwo’s engines continue.

No flight tests have occurred in four months, however, which suggests that they have decided to abandon their first engine design and are now doing these new ground tests to prove the reliability of the new engine before proceeding to flight tests. The lack of flight tests also suggests that Richard Branson’s most recent announcement that he will definitely fly as a passenger this year is most likely hogwash.

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Richard Branson manipulates the press again

Two stories today from Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic:

The quote from the first story is especially entertaining:
» Read more

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A reporter takes a close look at Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America in New Mexico and comes away very skeptical.

Failure to launch? A reporter takes a close look at Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America in New Mexico and comes away very skeptical.

Read it all. The view might be pessimistic, but it is important to keep an open mind. Richard Branson’s effort, as sincere as I think it is, might not succeed.

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Will SpaceShipTwo take passengers into space this year? Branson says yes, Messier says probably not.

Will SpaceShipTwo take passengers into space this year? Branson says yes, Messier says probably not.

Messier’s analysis seems very sound to me. Moreover, if you watch the video of Branson at the link, he sure doesn’t seem comfortable making his claim. I hope Messier is wrong, but the history and facts seem to support him.

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Richard Branson today claimed that Virgin Galactic will fly its first space tourists this year.

Did you ever get the feeling of deja-vu? On Monday Richard Branson claimed that Virgin Galactic will fly its first space tourists this year.

I am all for his success, but I must admit I am becoming skeptical. Branson said exactly the same thing in May 2013, except then he was claiming that the first tourist flight would occur before the end of 2013. It didn’t happen.

There are too many rumors about the engine troubles with SpaceShipTwo to allow me to accept Branson’s claims any longer at face value.

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The public battle between Virgin Galactic and the author of a critical new biography of Richard Branson.

The public battle between Virgin Galactic and the author of a new biography of Richard Branson that raises serious doubts about the company.

Bottom line: The facts still suggest strongly that the company is having serious problems with SpaceShipTwo’s engines.

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In an interview Richard Branson says that Virgin Galactic is working to replace SpaceShipTwo’s hybrid engine.

In an interview Richard Branson says that Virgin Galactic is working to replace SpaceShipTwo’s hybrid engine.

So for instance, the initial rocket which I’ll be flying on to space will be thrown away afterward. Within six to nine months, we will be using rockets that will have capability of being used maybe up to 1,000 times, but definitely up to 100 times. That will bring the cost of space travel down dramatically.

This timing fits with their new schedule for the first commercial flights of SpaceShipTwo sometime late in 2014. I suspect they are hoping to fly the ship a few more times with the troublesome hybrid engine, partly for engineering research and partly to keep interest up in the company, and then switch over to a new engine.

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In a newspaper interview Richard Branson today claimed that Virgin Galactic is “just three months away from having a fully-functioning rocket that is capable of taking passengers into orbit.”

In a newspaper interview Richard Branson today claimed that Virgin Galactic is “just three months away from having a fully-functioning rocket that is capable of taking passengers into orbit.”

At this moment I am sadly very skeptical. The company has only done two powered flights of SpaceShipTwo, and the highest it has gone is about 70,000 feet. To make it fully-functioning, they need to fly it 70 miles high. And the rumors about their engine problems suggest they won’t be able to do this until next year, at the soonest.

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Richard Branson has revealed that Justin Bieber has signed on to fly on SpaceShipTwo.

Richard Branson has revealed that Justin Bieber has signed on to fly on SpaceShipTwo.

The competition is now really heating up. Bieber probably doesn’t want to be left behind, considering the publicity Sarah Brightman has been getting for her planned space flight to ISS.

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In a speech in Dubai last week Richard Branson revealed that his company is aiming for a 2013 Christmas day inaugural space tourism flight of SpaceShipTwo.

The competiton heats up: In a speech in Dubai last week Richard Branson revealed that his company is aiming for a 2013 Christmas day inaugural space tourism flight of SpaceShipTwo.

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In a web interview today, Richard Branson said that the first supersonic powered flight of SpaceShipTwo is now set for this coming Monday.

The competition heats up: In a web interview today, Richard Branson said that the first supersonic powered flight of SpaceShipTwo is now set for this coming Monday.

We’re hoping to break the sound barrier. That’s planned Monday. It will be a historic day. This is going to be Virgin Galactic’s year. We’ll break the sound barrier Monday and from there, we build up through the rest of the year, finally going into space near the end of the year. I’ll be on the first official flight, which we look to have in the first quarter of next year. We’re doing a number of test flights into space first.

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Richard Branson talks to the Wall Street Journal

Richard Branson talks to the Wall Street Journal about space.

Mr. Branson is still radiating enthusiasm. “We’ve got just short of 500 people now signed up to go, which is actually more people than have been up to space in the history of space travel, and we hope to put those up in our first year of operation,” he says, predicting the first commercial flight by “about next Christmas,” although he acknowledges that there have been many delays.

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How Richard Branson started Virgin Atlantic

How Richard Branson started Virgin Atlantic.

“In ’79, when Joan, my fiancee and I were on a holiday in the British Virgin Islands, we were trying to catch a flight to Puerto Rico; but the local Puerto Rican scheduled flight was cancelled. The airport terminal was full of stranded passengers. I made a few calls to charter companies and agreed to charter a plane for $2000 to Puerto Rico. Cheekily leaving out Joan’s and my name, I divided the price by the remaining number of passengers, borrowed a blackboard and wrote: VIRGIN AIRWAYS: $39 for a single flight to Puerto Rico. I walked around the airport terminal and soon filled every seat on the charter plane.

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