Space tourism comes a step closer


Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
Virgin Galactic dedicated the runway at their Space Port today bringing space tourism a bit closer. Beardie Branson reckons the first commercial flights could be under way in less than 18 months and 380 people have paid $200,000 to be on the waiting list.

But a note of caution from The Material World on R4 this evening. Because of the type of fuel spaceships use they generate a huge amount of soot compared to commercial airliners. The other problem is that the soot will be deposited in the upper part of the atmosphere where there is no rain so it won't be washed to earth in the same way that emmisions from jets are. The expert interviewed claimed the soot cloud would most likely sit above the northern Atlantic raising the temperature above the cloud by 1 degree and lowering it by the same amount below it.

So there you have it, space tourism not only pointless but also likely to destroy the world more quickly. Well done Beardie, another winner. S'pose you gave us Tubular Bells though...
The target date for the first commercial flights has been slipping further and further right for some time now. This could potentially signal the end of the line for the project.
I don't believe it will, not as long as man's fascination with space continues, it also shows that it is possible to survive even in these circumstances.

Man has never given up on the airplane just because people have died when they crash and this kind of transport could potentially cover the distance between say Britain and Australia in a fraction of the time it takes at present and so it would make commercial sense to continue, at least until someone can make the beam me up scotty thing work which would make travel instantaneous..
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It will happen eventually.

Perhaps the technological approach isn't quite right due to current knowledge and application.

One day though...
I agree with you both that commercial passenger space flight will become a reality. what I meant was that perhaps the Virgin project may be shelved. Branson is very brand orientated and as I said, the date of the first flight has slipped and slipped again despite a number of releases from Richard Branson claiming it was a few months away.

It's a real shame. Not only because there was a fatality but also because these projects fire peoples imagination and we need more like it.
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So this week we have had the Virgin spaceship "suffer a serious anomoly" and a private-venture rocket booster explode. I can just imagine how lengthy and involved the waivers will be for would-be space tourists to sign before boarding the craft!
Having read a bit about the Hybrid Engines that power Spaceship Two and hearing the eye witness reports, it's reasonably clear that it was a catastrophic engine failure.

A Hyrbid engine mixes a solid propellant with a liquid oxidiser. Apparently this is the area that has given the designers the biggest trouble. They recently redesigned the engine to use a different oxidiser because of a number of issues. Since the change there has been a number of static firings and tests without any issues.

In itself, the individual fuels in this type of engine are relatively stable before they are combined. This is one of the attractions of a Hybrid engine.

With the kind of forces involved, any deviation from the normal flight profile would lead to a structural failure and this looks to be the case here. Having just seen a couple of pictures, the fact that anyone made it out of the craft is amazing.
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