Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Richard Branson To Lead Us To The Final Frontier? Baseball/Softball Updates.
Richard Branson To Lead Us To The Final Frontier?
I present a story from space.com that deals with the potential for a fleet of suborbital spacecraft to be built by a joint venture between Virgin Galactic and a company called Scaled Composites. And yes, the Virgin is a subsidiary of Richard Branson's company. Excerpt:
A go-ahead was given last week by the U.S. Department of State's Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) that clears the way for exchanges of technical information between Scaled Composites of Mojave, California and Virgin Galactic of the United Kingdom to build passenger-carrying suborbital spaceliners.
Among its duties, DDTC administers and enforces International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).
Putting it in ITAR terms this is one small step for ITAR, one big leap for Virgin Galactic, said Will Whitehorn, President of Virgin Galactic the space tourism endeavor that is a subsidiary of British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group.
Not that I don't want to see this succeed, but where the hell are they going to fly if we only have one lousy space station in orbit. I know, the term used was "suborbital" due to it's heavy dependence on the design of the craft built by Burt Rutan that won the 10 million dollar Ansari X prize. Read on...
Last month, Branson, announced that he had teamed up with aerospace designer, Burt Rutan of Scaled Composites to form a new aerospace production firm: The Spaceship Company.
Details about the new company were unveiled at the Experimental Aircraft Association's (EAA) AirVenture air show held July 25-31 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The Spaceship Company will build a fleet of commercial suborbital spaceships and launch aircraft. Scaled Composites is to be under contract for research and development testing, as well as certification of a 9-person SpaceShipTwo (SS2) design, and a White Knight Two (WK2) mothership to be called Eve.
Whitehorn said last week's clearance to begin the exchange of technical information was a process spread over five months time. The DDTC understood the commercial rather than the military nature of the project, he said, and bodes well in the long-term, perhaps, for other private-sector space efforts.
I like the sound of this. It's just too bad that NASA can't even upgrade twenty-year-old space shuttle technology. Could this be the first step in making NASA as obsolete as it has been behaving for so long? But before all six of my readers get too excited, take a look at the ticket prices:
The “going rate” for seats onboard Virgin Galactic suborbital spaceships are price tagged at $200,000 each.
“We have a significant level of deposits now…nearly $10 million worth,” Whitehorn said. Some people are paying the full price to be founders and some are putting down deposits to fly in the future, he said.
Hmmm, I guess I'll be confining my flights to Pittsburgh, Vegas and Sydney (subtle hint to boss). It is still expensive as hell to get payloads into space from the surface of a planet. That is why a fully functional space station, no wait, make that space stations, plural, is so important. Once those are operational, you can build these craft in orbit, and launch them from right there where they are built, saving untold amounts of money. Branson has made everything else he has tried work, and Rutan made this whole thing possible with his design. Let's hope this partnership will succeed in getting mankind moving in this bold direction.
Full story: http://space.com/news/050815_virgingalactic_itar.html
Last night was the end of the regular season in my wage slavery organization softball league. We ended the season with ten wins and six losses. Playoffs begin next week. My team has won its last four games and is in a good position to win the league championship.
In major-league action, the Red Sox lost another tough one in Mowtown to the Tigers 6-5 as slob David Wells gave up five runs in the first inning. As great as this Red Sox offense is, it is too much to ask the bats to come back from such large early deficits every night. Sure they are averaging eight runs a game during the last three weeks, but the pitchers are giving back an average of six or seven. Now the Sox travel to the west coast to play the AL West leading Angels.