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Author Topic: Virgin Galactic's orbital plans  (Read 17656 times)

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: Virgin Galactic's orbital plans
« Reply #15 on: November 10, 2010, 11:51:55 pm »
Is there any indication that they have already started construction on follow-on aircraft?

No, I don't think they have - not least as on Tuesday they broke ground on the new TSC facility:

Quote from: http://www.virgingalactic.com/news/item/tsc-hangar-groundbreaking/
MOJAVE, CA, November 9, 2010 – The Spaceship Company (TSC) broke ground today for its new Final Assembly, Integration and Test Hangar today at Mojave Air & Space Port [...]

The new building, a 68,000 square foot, clear span, 737-sized hangar including offices, will serve as TSC’s operating headquarters once complete and be used primarily for the final assembly, integration and testing of TSC’s vehicles before they enter service. The building is sized to support the production of two WhiteKnightTwos and at least two SpaceShipTwos in parallel and has been designed to meet LEED standards.

[...]

I'll say this for Virgin, they're making a substantial investment in all this. Not convinced F.A.I.T.H. is a good name though for the new facility ...

The most recent VG promotional video (below) has a brief segment of Richard Branson visiting the existing TSC hanger; it's still looking pretty empty!


Offline Desert Dawn

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Re: Virgin Galactic's orbital plans
« Reply #16 on: November 12, 2010, 02:02:21 pm »
At the dedication event for Spaceport America on Friday, Richard Branson made a surprise statement about VG's orbital ambitions. Jeff Foust's reporting of the event includes the following:

Quote from: http://www.newspacejournal.com/2010/10/22/a-little-extra-at-the-spaceport-america-dedication/
Also during the press conference Branson was asked about orbital vehicle development. That is a long-term goal of the company, but Branson suggested they would try to find ways to accelerate it. “Obviously we want to move on to orbital after we’ve got suborbital under our belts, and maybe even before that,” he said, then mentioned NASA’s commercial crew development program and its request for proposals in the coming months. “Virgin Galactic is going to put forward proposals, and we plan to start work on an orbital program quite quickly.” Branson declined to provide any details on Virgin’s orbital vehicle plans, but said the company would say more in the next three to four months.

I would say reentry angle, TPS and engines/subsystems reliability. The 2nd one might be solved with the new ultra high temp TPS from the X-33 and X-37, the first one would have to do with the design of the vehicle (blunt nose or sharp sharp nose and sharp leading edges, choice of TPS material), the last one would be one of the most sticky points for a commercial passenger orbital vehicle.

It'll be very interesting to see what their orbital concept is and who they'll be working with.

Burt Rutan said for years that he didn't know how to do an orbital system safely. In his view there are three major problems to solve (I don't think he's ever explicitly listed them) and he only had ideas to address one of them. He's dropped hints though that he's been working on it.

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: Virgin Galactic's orbital plans
« Reply #17 on: November 12, 2010, 11:42:54 pm »
I would say reentry angle, TPS and engines/subsystems reliability.

I agree with the first two. You may by right about the third as well, but alternatively I'd suggest achieving orbital velocity with a re-usable launch vehicle (eg recovery of a second stage booster, if first stage is air launch).

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: Virgin Galactic's orbital plans
« Reply #18 on: December 13, 2010, 08:02:29 pm »
VG may be part of two CCDev2 bids:

Quote from: http://www.spacenews.com/civil/101213-orbital-virgin-ccdev2-bid.html
WASHINGTON — Orbital Sciences Corp. is proposing a new lifting-body spacecraft capable of carrying at least four passengers to orbit by 2015 in the competition for a second round of NASA commercial crew taxi development contracts slated for award in March, according to industry sources.

The spacecraft, designed to launch atop an Atlas 5 rocket and dock with the international space station, could be ready for test flights as early as 2014. The remotely piloted spacecraft would be able to carry four passengers initially, including three astronauts and one paying ticketholder, though based on market demand the number of private rides aboard the vehicle could grow to two, with four astronaut seats available, sources said. In the works at Orbital for the past year, the reusable spacecraft would be built using existing materials and technologies, employ standard hypergolic propellants and rely on a pusher escape system in the event of a launch mishap, sources said.

Dulles, Va.-based Orbital is teaming with Virgin Galactic of New Mexico on the Commercial Crew Development 2 (CCDev 2) project. Virgin Galactic will market commercial rides on the spacecraft, conduct drop tests of the orbital space vehicle using its WhiteKnightTwo aircraft and offer transport services for the space vehicle, industry sources said. Although Orbital expects to launch and land the spacecraft at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., in the event of an abort, WhiteKnightTwo would be used to ferry the spaceship between its landing location and the Cape.

Virgin is also expected to announce this week a separate CCDev 2 bid led by Sierra Nevada Corp., the big winner in NASA’s first round of Commercial Crew Development awards earlier this year.

[...]

Offline Archibald

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Re: Virgin Galactic's orbital plans
« Reply #19 on: December 14, 2010, 05:39:39 am »
what is certain is that the "shuttlecock" think doesn't work at orbital speed reentries. Then Virgin will have to build something quite differentfrom Spaceship 1 or 2. Should take time and money...
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http://www.caea.info/en/plan.php

Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: Virgin Galactic's orbital plans
« Reply #20 on: December 15, 2010, 03:55:52 pm »
Orbital have released some details of their CCDev2 submission, but haven't mentioned VG at all:

Quote from: http://www.orbital.com/NewsInfo/release.asp?prid=756
Orbital Submits Proposal for NASA's Commercial Crew Development Program
-- Company Issues Top-Level Details of Its Concept to Transport Astronauts To and From the International Space Station --


(Dulles, VA 14 December 2010)

Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB) today announced that it has submitted a proposal to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in response to the Commercial Crew Development-2 contract solicitation. The company also provided several top-level details of its proposal for providing safe and affordable transportation services to and from the International Space Station (ISS) and for commercial activities in Earth orbit. Orbital’s concept includes the following details:

  • A “blended lifting body” vehicle that will launch atop an expendable launch vehicle and return to Earth with a conventional runway landing. This design derives from studies performed by Orbital for NASA under the Orbital Space Plane program between 2000 and 2003.
  • The vehicle would seat four astronauts, providing a cost-effective solution for NASA’s astronaut transportation needs, as well as enabling future commercial applications.
  • The proposal baselines using a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, but is flexible enough to accommodate other launch vehicle options.
Click here to view Orbital's Proposed Commercial Crew Space Vehicle: http://www.orbital.com/NewsInfo/ImagesMultimedia/Images/ExplorationSystems/

Orbital also announced that it will lead a team of world-class suppliers that will contribute major elements of the system. Orbital’s major suppliers include:

  • Thales Alenia Space, which is responsible for the vehicle’s pressurized crew compartment
  • Northrop Grumman, which is the lead airframe structures designer
  • Honeywell and Draper Laboratory, which together are responsible for the human-rated avionics
  • United Launch Alliance, which is responsible for the vehicle’s baseline launch vehicle
[...]

Although Space News says:

Quote from: http://www.spacenews.com/civil/101214-orbital-unveils-supplier-ccdev2.html
[...]

According to industry sources, Orbital Sciences plans to team with Virgin Galactic of New Mexico to market commercial rides on the planned spacecraft and conduct drop tests of the orbital space vehicle using Virgin’s WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft.

Virgin Galactic, however, is not mentioned in Orbital’s Dec. 14 press release, which lists only the “major suppliers” that will “contribute major elements of the system.”

[...]

Attached images, from Orbital's website, show the new CCDev2 proposal. For comparison some images of Orbital's OSP design from 2000-2003 are below (posted in a separate thread):




Offline FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: Virgin Galactic's orbital plans
« Reply #21 on: December 16, 2010, 04:12:56 am »
VG have now confirmed their participation in both Orbital's and SNC's CCDev bids:

Quote from: http://www.virgingalactic.com/news/item/virgin-galactic/
[...]

The second phase of NASA’s Commercial Crew Development Program (CCDEV2), designed to stimulate development of privately-operated crew vehicles to low Earth orbit, presents an opportunity for VG to start to map a path towards a commercial orbital service for fare-paying passengers by encouraging reusable technologies and designs which can offer important advantages to safety, cost and passenger experience.

Both SNC and OSC are pursuing vehicle designs under CCDEV2 featuring reusable lifting-wing bodies and runway landings, which VG believes could revolutionize orbital space flight in much the same way that SpaceShipTwo has revolutionized sub-orbital space flight.

As a contributor to SNC’s and OSC’s submissions to NASA, VG is proposing to market seats on these vehicles to the public and to its existing customer base, which now numbers more than 400 people who have made deposits of over $54 million. VG will also investigate providing its mothership, WhiteKnightTwo, to SNC and OSC during their test flight programs.

[...]

Offline Mr London 24/7

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Re: Virgin Galactic's orbital plans
« Reply #22 on: March 11, 2011, 07:52:32 am »

Offline DSE

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Re: Virgin Galactic's orbital plans
« Reply #23 on: January 03, 2014, 11:40:59 am »
Virgin Galactic Highlights 2013



Offline DSE

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Re: Virgin Galactic's orbital plans
« Reply #24 on: January 11, 2014, 11:19:31 am »
VIRGIN GALACTIC REACHES NEW HEIGHTS IN THIRD SUPERSONIC TEST FLIGHT 10.01.14
 VIRGIN GALACTIC REACHES NEW HEIGHTS IN THIRD SUPERSONIC TEST FLIGHT

For related materials, including images and video, please visit www.image.net/thirdpoweredflight

Definitely want to check out the 200+MB video.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2014, 11:24:25 am by DSE »

Offline blackstar

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Re: Virgin Galactic's orbital plans
« Reply #25 on: January 12, 2014, 07:19:32 am »
Interesting that they have added the reflective surfaces to the inside of the vertical stabilizers, probably to reduce the heat radiation off the engine.

But they have been moving awfully slow. If they really want to get to commercial flights, they're going to have to step up their testing and soon. I don't see how the FAA is going to let them carry paying passengers without quite a few full power test flights.

Offline DSE

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Re: Virgin Galactic's orbital plans
« Reply #26 on: January 14, 2014, 01:52:17 am »
Interesting that they have added the reflective surfaces to the inside of the vertical stabilizers, probably to reduce the heat radiation off the engine.

Yes, I've seen several articles refer to this as TPS to reduce heating during the time the engine is firing.
« Last Edit: January 23, 2014, 03:03:44 pm by DSE »

Offline DSE

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Re: Virgin Galactic's orbital plans
« Reply #27 on: January 23, 2014, 03:03:10 pm »
23.01.14

VIRGIN GALACTIC ANNOUNCES SUCCESSFUL TEST FIRINGS OF NEW LIQUID ROCKET ENGINES FOR LAUNCHERONE

Company developing rocket engines(LOX/Kero, my addition) designed and built in house for its affordable, responsive small satellite launch service.


Offline blackstar

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Re: Virgin Galactic's orbital plans
« Reply #28 on: January 23, 2014, 03:27:57 pm »
Yeah, you sorta have to wonder about that. They haven't even started commercial flights on their primary development yet, so why are they messing around with this other thing? Okay, they are flush with cash, have long development times, etc. But it still seems a little odd. There's an old saying: "Shut up and sing." I'd just like to see them get operational already.

Offline Orionblamblam

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Re: Virgin Galactic's orbital plans
« Reply #29 on: January 23, 2014, 09:12:34 pm »
They might be closer to a "sure thing" business case for the launcher. The government might be waving sacks of cash in front of them. And the people working on the launcher might be a different group than those working on SS2. All good arguments for forging ahead on the launcher regardless of SS2 progress.
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And so the endless circle of life comes to an end, meaningless and grim. Why did they live, and why did they die? No reason. Two hundred million years of evolution snuffed out, for in the end Nature is horrific and teaches us nothing