Virgin Galactic sent Richard Branson to edge of space: Rewatch the livestream

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CNET 11 July, 2021 - 09:00pm 25 views

Where is Virgin Galactic launching from?

Virgin Galactic's flights launch from Spaceport America, along a desolate stretch of desert in New Mexico. The company's SpaceShipTwo Unity craft is designed to take off on a conventional runway while attached to the underbelly of a carrier ship known as WhiteKnightTwo. NBC NewsVirgin Galactic's rocket reaches edge of space with Richard Branson on board

Has Branson launched?

On July 11, Virgin Galactic made a giant leap toward commercial suborbital spaceflight. The company launched its first fully crewed flight of its SpaceShipTwo space plane Unity with a special passenger on board: the company's billionaire founder Richard Branson. Space.comVirgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Unity 22 launch with Richard Branson. See video and photos of the flight.

What time does Branson launch today?

Branson's trip began in dramatic fashion as Virgin's twin-fuselage carrier jet — with the VSS Unity rocket-powered spaceplane bolted under its wing — lifted away from the company's Spaceport America launch site near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, at 8:40 a.m. local time (10:40 a.m. EDT). CBS NewsRichard Branson and Virgin Galactic complete successful space flight

Who flew with Richard Branson?

Who were the crew members aboard the flight? The pilots are David Mackay and Michael Masucci. In addition to Mr. Branson, three Virgin Galactic employees joined the flight to evaluate how the experience will be for future paying customers. The New York TimesHighlights From Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Flight

On Sunday, Branson launched into the stratosphere (and a little beyond) in his edge-of-spaceship. The mission, dubbed Unity 22, was available to stream via the CNET Highlights YouTube channel. You can now watch the replay below.

Space guru and CNET Science writer Eric Mack was on the ground at Virgin's Spaceport America during the lead up to the mission and captured the events leading up to the historic moment. You can also get more behind-the-scenes goodness by following Eric on Twitter and Instagram @EricCMack

And don't forget -- Branson isn't the only billionaire heading to space this month. Ex-Amazon head honcho Jeff Bezos will be riding the first crewed Blue Origin rocket to space on July 20.

Read full article at CNET

Richard Branson goes to space: Live updates

CNN 11 July, 2021 - 10:18pm

Traveling to space must be "more accessible to all," Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson said during a news conference following his successful flight aboard Galactic's VSS Unity earlier today.

Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity space plane has safely landed at Spaceport America, live video from the scene showed.

Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity spaceplane has detached from its mothership and is independently headed toward space, a livestream from the event showed. 

VSS Unity is a suborbital space plane, meaning it won't drum up enough speed to escape the pull of Earth's gravity. Instead, it'll rocket at more than three times the speed of sound — about 2,300 miles per hour — to more than 50 miles above ground.

At the top of the flight path, Branson and his fellow passengers are expected to briefly experience weightlessness.

From the time the ship leaves the ground to the time the spacecraft lands back down on it, Richard Branson's trip aboard Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity should only take roughly an hour.

Unlike traditional space travel where astronauts circle the Earth and float in space for days, Virgin Galactic's flights are brief, up-and-down trips. But the spacecraft will go more than 50 miles above Earth, which the US government considers to mark the boundary of outer space.

The Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity has officially taken off.

The flight, which has billionaire Richard Branson and other passengers aboard, conducted more than 20 test flights, three of which have reached the edge of space, CNN has reported.

It is affixed to a mothership, called WhiteKnightTwo, that looks like two sleek jets attached at the tip of their wings. 

The mothership will take about 45 minutes to cruise along and slowly climb with VSS Unity to between 40,000 and 50,000 feet. 

When the pilots give the go-ahead, the space plane will drop from between WhiteKnightTwo's two fuselages and fire up its rocket engine, swooping directly upward and roaring past the speed of sound.

The TFR was issued from 9 a.m. through 6 p.m. ET “to provide a safe environment for spacecraft recovery,” according to the FAA. 

Some context: Temporary Flight Restrictions are used by the FAA to restrict aircraft operations within designated areas.  According to the FAA, TFRs with regards to spaceflight are typically used in Florida, New Mexico, and California.  

The spacecraft, attached in between the twin fuselages of mothership WhiteKnightTwo, will take off from a traditional runway at Spaceport America in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

Once the mothership, with its four jet engines, reaches about 50,000 feet altitude, it will drop the spacecraft. VSS Unity will then light its own rocket engine, and shoot up to an altitude over 50 miles above the desert floor.

Infographic: Billionaire space tourism

Al Jazeera English 11 July, 2021 - 10:18pm

On July 11 at 14:30 GMT, Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, along with two pilots and three other passengers will lift off from Virgin Galactic’s operational base at Spaceport America in the New Mexico desert. His crew will reach a peak altitude of some 89km (55 miles) and experience a few minutes of weightlessness before making a gliding descent back to Earth.

Nine days later, on July 20, Bezos, Amazon executive chairman will blast off from a reusable rocket from a launchpad in west Texas with five others including his brother Mark. His crew will reach an altitude of roughly 100km (62 miles).

Branson is known for his daredevil mogul reputation with a legacy of seafaring and hot-air balloon expeditions. He is set to promote his fast flourishing astro-tourism venture by projecting into the suborbital space.

Sunday’s launch will be Virgin Galactic Holding Inc’s (SPCE.N) first fully crewed test flight to the edge of space.

The spaceplane will be released by a twin-fuselage carrier jet dubbed VMS Eve (named after Branson’s mother) to an altitude of 50,000 feet (15,240 metres), where Unity will be released, and soar by rocket power in an almost vertical climb through the outer fringe of Earth’s atmosphere.

At the summit of its flight some 89km above the New Mexico desert, the crew will experience a few minutes of weightlessness before making a gliding descent back to Earth. The flight is expected to last about 90 minutes and will be live-streamed.

Virgin’s Unity 22 mission marks the 22nd test flight of the spacecraft and the company’s fourth crewed mission beyond Earth’s atmosphere.

Although the mission is seen as a potential milestone in helping transform citizen rocket travel into a mainstream commercial venture, spaceflight remains an inherently hazardous endeavour.

An earlier prototype of the Virgin Galactic rocket plane crashed during a test flight over the Mojave Desert, California in 2014, killing one pilot and seriously injuring another.

Branson’s Sunday flight is upstaging rival Bezos and his space company, Blue Origin by nine days in what is called “the billionaire space race”.

Bezos, the founder and former CEO of online retail giant Amazon.com, is slated to fly on board Blue Origin’s suborbital rocket ship, the New Shepard on July 20.

Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, along with fellow billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s SpaceX, are competing head-to-head in the emerging business of space tourism, though Musk has a big head start.

SpaceX, which plans to send its first all-civilian crew (without Musk) into orbit in September, has already launched numerous cargo payloads and astronauts to the International Space Station.

VSS Unity has two pilots, Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci who will control the ignition and shut-off of the ship’s rocket engine, and activate the vehicle’s “feathered” tail manoeuvre for re-entry.

The three other mission specialists are Beth Moses, the company’s chief astronaut instructor; Virgin Galactic’s lead operations engineer Colin Bennett; and Sirisha Bandla, a research operations, and government affairs vice president.

Virgin says it plans two further test flights of the spaceplane before beginning commercial service next year.

The company has said it has received more than 600 flight reservations, priced at about $250,000 per ticket, but hopes eventually to slash the cost of each seat to $40,000.

The US-based institutes like the USAF define space at 80km (50 miles) which is marginally different from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) which defines it at 100km (62 miles) above sea level. The Karman line is defined at almost 100km as well. NASA mission control defines the beginning of space at 122km (76 miles).

Virgin Galactic will be orbiting 89km and Blue Origin will be cruising 100km above sea level.

It is commonly attributed that space begins when the atmosphere alone is not enough to support a flying vessel at suborbital speeds.

Branson’s July 11 mission will be Virgin Galactic’s fourth crewed spaceflight as the race to space heats up.

Scientists at NASA are working to fix the Hubble Space Telescope as the James Webb Space Telescope passes a key test.

Branson says his kids are excited while his wife told him, ‘You can do it, but I won’t be going to your funeral’.

Watch: Richard Branson's VSS Unity Blasts Into Space

Bloomberg Technology 11 July, 2021 - 10:18pm

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