Branson sticks to aggressive Virgin Galactic schedule

Most people concluded that last month’s Scaled Composites accident would delay Virgin Galactic’s plans to begin suborbital space tourism services; even Burt Rutan admitted last weekend that the accident would delay plans for rocket-powered test flights (without saying exactly what that schedule was.) Richard Branson, though, doesn’t seem to have factored any delay into his plans to begin commercial service, based on these comments in an interview with New York magazine:

Well, as you might know, we’re working on space travel, and Virgin Galactic is going into space in eighteen months’ time. Our spaceships will be done in nine months’ time, and we’ll be doing test flights. Then from there we hope to set up a Virgin hotel in space. We have quite ambitious plans for space travel.

Eighteen months? That may well be “quite ambitious”.

3 comments to Branson sticks to aggressive Virgin Galactic schedule

  • I want to see the license come out of AST, but it would not be surprising for Scaled to have a license just in time like they did with their X Prize flight. I predict the licensing process will be drawn out both by AST being a stickler on when the application is complete and using every statutorily available day to make their decision. Furthermore, we might see the first instance of an anti-trust decision style extension for the regulator. AST will be under tremendous scrutiny given the industrial accident at Scaled and I expect them to pass that through to Scaled to the extent they are allowed.

    In 2004, Branson said flights would commence as soon as 2007. Virgin Galactic have also said, “when it’s ready”. It would be nice if they told us their test flight program so we could assess how long after commencement of test flights until commercial flight.

  • Peter Shearer

    Rutan must be kinda aggravated over that statement. He REALLY doesn’t like giving timetables and he’s already publicly expressed annoyance with Virgin Galactic announcing timelines.

    The nice thing is that the testing of Spaceshiptwo will take many months before they’re even ready for any rocket tests so I flights will probably occur on schedule and maybe the rocket powered flights will start a little late but finish on time.

    It’s nice that Branson is talking about a space hotel. Bet it’ll be a Bigelow space station!

  • Thomas Matula


    I disagree. The accident at Scaled was an industrial accident not a flight accident. There is no reason why Scaled should be under any additional scrutiny by the AST then Boeing would be by the FAA for the B787 if a tank truck of JP4 blew up at one of its plants where it is developing the B787.

    The reality is that chemicals used as fuel explode sometimes, that is why such chemicals are used as fuels.

    The community is making too big a deal out of this accident. Its almost like the folks are LOOKING to invite higher levels of regulation by the FAA by building up this accident. Hazardous chemical accident happen all the time, that is why they are regarded as hazardous chemicals. That is why OSHA has so many regulations governing there handling and use. The community simply needs to acknowledge this, check again their OSHA required safety policies and procedures, and then move on. In short it needs to start acting like the industry it claims it is then as a group of hobbyists.

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