COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Are you worried about having to pee while you’re flying on Blue Origin’s New Shepard spaceship? Or getting sick? Billionaire founder Jeff Bezos has a word of advice: Fuhgeddaboudit.
During this week’s visit to the 33rd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Bezos handled the standard questions about, um, bodily needs while in the confines of the suborbital spaceship that Blue Origin is developing.
Those questions have been addressed before, but perhaps not quite as authoritatively (or humorously). Watch our video, and then we’ll sum up answers to all the burning questions that arose.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The seats in Blue Origin’s suborbital spaceship are like a dentist’s chair that’s fully extended, with a big difference. You can float out of this one when weightlessness sets in.
Of course, we couldn’t get the zero-G experience when we tried out the seats in a mock-up of the New Shepard crew capsule, on display here at the 33rd Space Symposium. But we did get a condensed version of the 11-minute flight scenario, from launch to landing.
Our guide for the sit-in was Ariane Cornell, a member of Blue Origin’s strategy and business development team. Five other journalists and I ducked our heads, stepped through the hatch and settled into the six seats placed around the periphery of a cabin that’s about the size and shape of a big igloo.
Charles Simonyi, the billionaire software executive who’s flown to space twice, says he doesn’t know who’s on SpaceX’s passenger list for a flight beyond the moon and back. But he knows at least one potential customer who’s not on it: himself.
The folks who ride New Shepard, the suborbital spaceship being tested by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture, will be given barf bags to tuck into their flight suits. But they almost certainly won’t need them.
That’s the word from former NASA astronaut Nicholas Patrick, who is now working out what passengers aboard New Shepard will experience. His official title at Blue Origin is human integration architect.
Patrick and other Blue Origin employees showed off what the company’s done so far, and what it plans to do over the next couple of years, for a standing-room crowd of about 500 folks on Jan. 27 during an “Astronomy on Tap” presentation at the Peddler Brewing Company in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood.
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo craft, VSS Unity, took its second free-flying test run today, closing off a rebuilding year for the space venture.
At the start of the year, the company was still finishing up work on its second SpaceShipTwo rocket plane, incorporating the lessons learned from the breakup of the first SpaceShipTwo in October 2014.
That accident occurred during a rocket-powered test, killing co-pilot Mike Alsbury and severely injuring pilot Pete Siebold. Investigators blamed pilot error as well as a host of other contributing factors.
VSS Unity rolled out this February amid a burst of Virgin-style hoopla, and since then the SpaceShipTwo team has been conducting a low-profile series of tests. The 27-foot-wide plane was released from its WhiteKnightTwo mothership for its first unpowered glide flight on Dec. 3.
Today’s flight from California’s Mojave Air and Space Port followed a similar profile, with the aim of checking the craft’s aerodynamics under a variety of conditions. Virgin Galactic’s Dave Mackay and Mark Stucky repeated their roles as SpaceShipTwo’s pilots.
Virgin Galactic’s second SpaceShipTwo rocket plane, dubbed VSS Unity, successfully glided through its first free-flying test run today. The flight comes more than two years after the first SpaceShipTwo broke up during a rocket-powered test.
The hybrid rocket engine wasn’t switched on for today’s trial in the skies above California’s Mojave Desert. Instead, VSS Unity was set loose by its WhiteKnightTwo carrier airplane at a height of tens of thousands of feet, and winged its way back to the Mojave Air and Space Port.
Test pilot Mark “Forger” Stucky and Virgin Galactic’s chief pilot, Dave Mackay, were at the controls in Unity’s cockpit. Mike Masucci and Todd Ericson piloted WhiteKnightTwo, with Dustin Mosher as flight engineer. Virgin Galactic reported that the crew was “safe and sound” after “a successful first glide test flight.”
PD Aerospace, a Japanese company that’s similar to Virgin Galactic in its commercial spaceflight aspirations, has picked up two high-profile investors: ANA Holdings and the H.I.S. travel agency.
In a joint statement issued on Dec. 1, the three Japanese companies said that they agreed in October to work together on space commercialization efforts, including space travel.
H.I.S. is investing about $264,000 (30 million yen) for a 10.3 percent share of the venture. ANA Holdings, the umbrella company for the ANA (All Nippon Airways) airline, is putting in about $180,000 (20.4 million yen) for a 7 percent share.
The combined amount of investment wouldn’t be enough to buy two tickets on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo rocket plane, which is currently undergoing flight tests at California’s Mojave Air and Space Port.
MOJAVE, Calif. – This time around, Virgin Galactic took no chances with the weather.
When the first SpaceShipTwo rocket plane was rolled out and christened Virgin Spaceship Enterprise in 2009, the craft sat out in Mojave’s December chill. A windstorm ended up spoiling the party and blowing away the tents that Virgin Galactic set up for the celebration.
Not that the weather was anything to worry about: The show wrapped up in the middle of the afternoon, well before the temperatures dropped and the winds picked up. VSS Unity was even taken outside into the sunshine after the ceremonies wrapped up.
MOJAVE, Calif.– Sixteen months after Virgin Galactic’s first SpaceShipTwo rocket plane was lost amid tragedy, the second SpaceShipTwo was christened Virgin Spaceship Unity with a smashed bottle of milk and a big gulp of celebrity glitz.
Hundreds of employees, VIPs and would-be spacefliers gathered on Feb. 19 for the craft’s official rollout at the Final Assembly, Integration and Test Hangar, or FAITH, here at the Mojave Air and Space Port. And although British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking couldn’t attend the ceremony in person, he read out the rocket plane’s new name in an audio clip.
“We are entering a new space age, and I hope this will help to create a new unity,” said Hawking, who has been guaranteed a free spaceflight if he’s up to it when VSS Unity enters service. “Space exploration has already been a great unifier. We seem able to cooperate between nations in space, in a way we can only envy on Earth.”
Then Virgin Galactic’s founder, British billionaire Richard Branson, arranged for the official christening to be done by his granddaughter, Eva Deia, who was born exactly one year ago today.
“I’m pretty sure a 1-year-old has never christened a spaceship before, so we really are in virgin territory,” Branson quipped. “Today seems to the right time to change that, as we after all are celebrating the birth of two gorgeous ladies.”