Tag Archives: space orbiter

NASA Buys Flights on Virgin Galactic’s Private Spaceship

NASA’s troubles are other companies good luck charm: Virgin has just struck a deal with NASA worth up to $4.5 million for research flights using the company’s new spaceship.

NASA, who is just out of space orbiters, has to sign up several of these deals in order to continue their regular activity, and SpaceShipTwo, a shuttle designed specifically for carrying eight people into suborbital space will fit in just nicely.

“We are excited to be working with NASA to provide the research community with this opportunity to carry out experiments in space, said George Whitesides, president and CEO of Virgin Galactic, in a statement.

The company will also provide a space engineer to assist in every mission; at a first glance, this seems like a win-win situation for everybody.

“An enormous range of disciplines can benefit from access to space, but historically, such research opportunities have been rare and expensive,” Whitesides added. “At Virgin Galactic, we are fully dedicated to revolutionizing access to space, both for tourist astronauts and, through programs like this, for researchers.”

However, many claim this is a major step backwards for NASA, which now has to go through a middle man to leaver the atmosphere. Still, they are receiving a lot of support from many people, including Mike Moses, NASA’s former space shuttle launch integration manager, who will become vice president manager of operations.

“I am extremely excited to be joining Virgin Galactic at this time, helping to forge the foundations that will enable routine commercial suborbital spaceflights,” he said in a statement. “Virgin Galactic will expand the legacy of human spaceflight beyond traditional government programs into the world’s first privately funded commercial spaceline.”.

Endeavour launch delayed due to Russian schedule

Endeavour was set to take of in a really short time, and everybody was ready for this, but in an attempt to avoid a scheduling conflict with a Russian supply ship headed for the International Space Station (ISS), the launch of Endeavour has been delayed until April 29. The Russian spaceship will be launched on April 27 and will reach the ISS two days later, on April 29.

Endeavour was set to go less than three weeks from now, on April 19, but NASA was forced to delay the launch due to these events. There have also been some fears expressed regarding the recent violent storms that hit Florida’s Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday and Thursday. Officials found “only minor damage” and “evaluations indicate there was no damage to the spacecraft,” NASA said.

The mission will be the last one for Endeavour, which will be retired, just as fellow orbiter Discovery, which went on its last mission this year. It will be led by Commander Mark Kelly, whos brother is also an astronaut and returned only recently from the ISS – imagine the dinner conversations around that table.

Crew practices for Endeavour last mission

After Discovery, another legendary orbited is heading towards retirement – Endeavour is only one mission away from a lifetime of well deserved rest. But until that, the astronauts which will ride Endeavour on its last trip are preparing intensely for it; after all, they have to prepare a major astrophysics experiment, as well as deliver some supplies to the International Space Station (ISS).

“My crew and I will get to strap in,” Endeavour commander Mark Kelly told reporters after arriving in Florida Monday. “We practice the launch countdown that day and I know these guys are excited to do this. TCDT, or the terminal countdown demonstration test, is when the processing and the training kind of comes together.”

“We like coming in to see the space shuttle,” Kelly said. “It’s always exciting, especially when you’re three weeks away from launch.”

I bet it is ! I can only imagine the thrill and the excitement that come with a mission such as this one, but for Endeavour, this is not really such a big deal. After all, after 24 missions, you kind of get used to it; after this mission, Endeavour will enter its retirement – hopefully, to be replaced by a more performant shuttle.