Remembering Tom Rogers

As you may have already heard, space tourism pioneer Tom Rogers passed away last week at the age of 85. Rogers had been in poor health and out of public view for the last few years, but for much of the 1990s and early 2000s—after a long career in public service—he was one of the [...]

More curious scheduling from Branson

Last week we noted that Richard Branson had a more ambitious schedule for Virgin Galactic than company officials have recently stated, claiming that “Virgin Galactic will take off in November”. That statement, made in Boston last week, doesn’t appear to be an isolated incident. The German magazine Stern has an article this week about Virgin [...]

Notes from my Simonyi interview

On Wednesday I had a long telephone interview with Charles Simonyi, scheduled to make a return trip to the International Space Station late next month. (The interview got delayed a couple hours because his training that day ran long.) I plan to have a more complete account of the interview in Monday’s issue of The [...]

Branson runs on his own schedule

Last week Virgin Galactic president Will Whitehorn said that the first glide tests of SpaceShipTwo would take by the end of this year, not offering a timetable for either powered test flights or the beginning of commercial service. However, in Boston this week to mark the beginning of Virgin American flights into Logan Airport, Richard [...]

Blue Origin and Jeff Bezos’s reading habits

When Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show last October to discuss the Kindle e-book reader, he mentioned in passing that he was reading a book on the history of cryogenics. Not your usual reading fare to be certain, even for a self-professed nerd like Bezos (and particularly when paired with the [...]

What would you ask Charles Simonyi?

On Wednesday I’m going to be interviewing Charles Simonyi, who will be making a return trip to the ISS late next month as a private astronaut (aka space tourist). I’ve got plenty of questions that I can ask him, but I would like to see what questions you’d like to ask him if you had [...]

Other Virgin Galactic notes

Some other notes from Friday’s talk by Will Whitehorn (as well as another Virgin official, Enrico Palermo, in a panel later in the day) at the FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference:

Whitehorn said that he and Richard Branson “got a very excited email from Burt [Rutan]” the day before, after WhiteKnightTwo made its second test [...]

Video: Whitehorn assesses the competition

Below is a brief snippet of Will Whitehorn’s speech at the FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference on Friday. In this segment Whitehorn examines some of the other ventures developing suborbital vehicles, including Rocketplane, EADS Astrium, Blue Origin, XCOR, Armadillo Aerospace, and Copenhagen Suborbitals, a little-known Danish firm developing a very minimalist suborbital system. Whitehorn’s theme [...]

Second WK2 test flight completed

I’ve heard from a couple of sources that WhiteKnightTwo took off from Mojave Air and Space Port just before 8 am PST (11 am EST) this morning on its second test flight. Look for more details later today.

Update: WK2 landed back at Mojave at 9:22 am PST (12:22 pm EST) according to a source.

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Virgin, Surrey, and Astrium

There was some coverage earlier this week of reports that Virgin Galactic and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) were teaming up to develop a small satellite launcher using a new rocket launched from WhiteKnightTwo, the aircraft being developed to launch SpaceShipTwo. Virgin has been interested in some time in developing a small satellite launcher using [...]