Headlines > News > Virgin Galactic Newsletter January 2009

Virgin Galactic Newsletter January 2009

Published by Rob on Tue Jan 20, 2009 8:47 pm
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SUCCESSFUL VMS EVE ENGINE RUNS, TAXI RUNS
AND ROCKET MOTOR FIRES!

September brought a series of successful engine runs, followed by the short and medium speed taxi runs in October / November. Excitement was running high for the high speed taxi runs in December and a succession of rocket motor fires brought the project one step closer to Richard Branson and Burt Rutan’s dream of making space accessible to everyone.

HISTORIC SUCCESSFUL FIRST VMS EVE TEST FLIGHT!
On the morning of December 21st, all eyes were fixed on the beautiful VMS Eve. The twin fuselages bridged by the 140 foot carbon wing span stood ready after years of design and build and the teams from Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites could not wait to see it soar against the blue sky of the Mojave desert…
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VIRGIN GALACTIC SIGN HISTORIC SPACEPORT
AMERICA LEASE AGREEMENT

On December 31st, 2008, Virgin Galactic signed a 20 year lease agreement with the State of New Mexico. Virgin Galactic’s world headquarters will be established in New Mexico and its base of operations will be located at New Mexico’s Spaceport America, the nation’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport.

“The signing of this agreement is a momentous day for our state and has cemented New Mexico as the home of commercial space travel,” Governor Bill Richardson said. “I want to thank Virgin Galactic for partnering with us to create a whole new industry that is going to transform the economy of Southern New Mexico – creating thousands of jobs, generating money for education, boosting tourism and attracting other companies and economic opportunities to the area.”
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COMMERCIAL SPACE AWARD
In 2008, the Commercial Space Award was presented to The Spaceship Company, jointly formed between Scaled Composites (Mojave, CA) led by Doug Shane, President, and Virgin Galactic (UK) led by Will Whitehorn, President, for its ground breaking efforts to commercialize personal spaceflight. The Spaceship Company manufactures new launch aircraft, spaceships and support equipment and will market them to spaceline operators, including the launch customer, Virgin Galactic. In July 2008, the developers rolled out VMS Eve, the carrier aircraft that will transport SS2 and private astronauts, science experiments and payloads on a sub-orbital space experience.

SPACEPORT UPDATE
Planning and design of Spaceport America is well underway with the New Mexico Spaceport Authority and Virgin Galactic working in close collaboration to ensure delivery of a truly unique facility. Early works have started on the access roads to the site of the new Spaceport, with construction of Virgin Galactic’s Terminal Hangar Facility scheduled to start this year. The Spaceport will provide a base of operation for Virgin Galactic with a runway and apron areas, hangar and terminal which will provide astronaut training and lounge amenities.


59TH INTERNATIONAL ASTRONAUTICAL
CONGRESS VISITS SCOTLAND

Between 29th September and 3rd October, Virgin Galactic participated in the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) www.iac2008.co.uk which was held in the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, Glasgow:
The IAC attracts leaders of international space agencies, scientific organizations and aerospace companies and allowed Virgin Galactic to advance discussion of our new market areas of scientific research, technology demonstration and professional astronaut training.
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PRESS RELEASE – VIRGIN GALACTIC ANNOUNCE PARTNERSHIIP TO GATHER DATA ON CLIMATE CHANGE

During the IAC event in Glasgow, Virgin Galactic announced the partnership with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Virgin Galactic is to look at carrying scientific instruments on board its new carrier aircraft VMS Eve and SpaceShipTwo (SS2) to gather data on climate change. This announcement underlined the huge potential that Virgin Galactic’s new space access system offers in addition to space tourism .
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VMS EVE / SS2 MODEL EXHIBITED AT SELFRIDGES, LONDON
During September, a model of the VMS Eve / SS2 was exhibited in The Wonder Room at the Selfridges flagship store in Oxford Street, London. The model, spaceflight animation, and Virgin Galactic exhibits received a huge amount of interest from regular customers and tourists from all over the world.

WORLD SERIES AND ELECTION FEVER HITS PHILADELPHIA DURING OUR CUSTOMER CENTRIFUGE TRAINING!
In November 2008 we visited the NASTAR Center in Philadelphia, a world class facility that provides training for the aerospace industry. Virgin Galactic and NASTAR have collaborated to produce a two day programme that gives Future Astronauts a real taste of what they will experience on their spaceflight. Academic training on acceleration, G forces and how to manage them is given before climbing aboard the centrifuge pod and actually feeling the Gs. On day two, the trainees experienced the exact G force profile of the Virgin Galactic spaceflight and reached a maximum of 4Gz (when the force is felt in a ‘head to toe’ direction) and 6Gx (when the force pushes from front to back).
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TOKYO STOPOVER – MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
In September, Stephen Attenborough (Commercial Director) and Carolyn Wincer (Head of Astronaut Sales) flew to Tokyo to support our Japanese Accredited Space Agent (ASA), Club Tourism International, who have been working with Virgin Galactic since 2005. Virgin Galactic held a seminar and press conference, both of which were well attended with excellent coverage.

ASTRONAUTS GET TOGETHER FOR LUNCH IN NEW ZEALAND
Carolyn Wincer flew to New Zealand in early October and gave an inspirational presentation in Auckland followed by a live breakfast TV interview. However, the highlight of her trip was when Virgin Galactic’s New Zealand ASA, House of Travel, arranged a special lunch for four Future Astronauts in Christchurch. After an informal lunch, local press arrived in force to photograph and interview our first Kiwi customers.

CHILE WELCOMES VIRGIN GALACTIC
Our ASA from Chile, Cocha Travel, put a great deal of effort into organizing an incredibly successful Press Conference at the Intercontinental Hotel in Santiago, mid October. All major print and broadcast media were delighted to meet someone from Virgin Galactic – however the main attraction was the chance to meet one of the first local astronauts.

A string of successful ASA Press Conferences and events followed in Peru, Brazil and Columbia.
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NECKER CUSTOMER FORUM – FUTURE ASTRONAUTS
HIT BY HURRICANE OMAR!!

When the Future Astronauts arrived on Necker Island, Sir Richard Branson’s Caribbean home, they did not expect to be offered activities such as ‘Crows-nest Hurricane Surfing’ but that’s exactly what was in store. Half way though the week, Hurricane Omar, gusting 125mph, made an almost direct hit on the British Virgin Islands – to keep spirits up, a new drinks menu was drawn up, including drinks ‘Blown Away’, and ‘Branson’s Breeze’.

Virgin Galactic Future Astronauts are generally seeking new and powerful experiences and this Category 3 Hurricane offered exactly that!

During the recent Virgin Galactic Necker week, our customer’s were fortunate enough to be visited by EarthRace the wave piercing, around the world record breaking, biodiesel, all carbon fiber power boat!

MISSION VIRGIN GALACTIC!
At the end of April, Virgin Galactic, The Royal Aeronautical Society and The Royal Air Force launched the ‘MISSION VIRGIN GALACTIC’ UK National Schools Competition www.missionvirgingalactic.com.
The competition has been heavily promoted within schools. Teams from schools all over the UK started working on their entries in September when the children returned to school after the summer holidays.
Ridgeway School in Doncaster organised a special Mission Virgin Galactic Day to promote the schools competition to its pupils. One of Virgin Galactic’s team members went to visit the school and carried out workshops with the different teams in order to further excite them about space travel and the possibilities of science, engineering and technology. The children had the opportunity to ask questions about the Virgin Galactic project as well as space travel in general.

The children presented some very interesting and clever product ideas for their entries and were extremely enthusiastic to win the first prize and get a once in a lifetime opportunity to fly to the US and see one of the first test flights

By February 28th schools will have to nominate one team to represent their school in the regional competitions and hopefully at the final at the International Air Tattoo in July 2009

GALACTIC GREETINGS!
The Virgin Galactic team would like to take this opportunity to wish you a peaceful, healthy and happy 2009!

Please feel free to discuss this topic further in the forum or chat…

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