First Flight

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The last part in Doug Messier’s series on the commercial aviation/space history, First Flight, is now available.

Messier brings his history of Virgin Galactic up to the present, and then compares their efforts to build a reusable suborbital spacecraft with that of Blue Origin and its New Shepard design. For Virgin Galactic, the comparison does not reflect well upon them. While fourteen years have passed since the company began its so far unsuccessful effort to reach suborbital space, Blue Origin has already done it multiple times, with a reusable ship. And it took Blue Origin about half the time to make that happen.



  • LocalFluff

    Balloon flight in the 18th century seems to have been pretty wild too. With female ballonneers and parachuting.

  • LocalFluff

    Talking about first flight, today is 60 years since Sputnik I!

  • wayne

    thanks for that historical tidbit!

  • wayne

    Sputnik 1 CBS NEWS Special Report,
    Oct 6 1957

  • Edward

    That was an excellent review and analysis of the reasons and effects of turning-point accidents. The Virgin Galactic accident seems to have resulted in all the sub-orbital space tourist companies taking another look at safety; all of them pushed back their expected dates for starting commercial passenger flights.

    Perhaps it didn’t fit with your thesis, but the story of the demise of the Concorde is an example of a unique commercial airliner that had an era-ending accident (the government-operated Soviet SST also exited service after an accident without passengers aboard). However, so far, no one has tried to replace it with anything, unlike the solid-frame airship or the Space Shuttle. It might compare or contrast with the fate or destiny of commercial sub-orbital space tourism.

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