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Space United States

Virgin Galactic Signs Historic Lease Agreement 49

RobGoldsmith writes "Governor Bill Richardson today announced that Virgin Galactic has 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 operations will be located at New Mexico's Spaceport America, the nation's first purpose-built commercial spaceport. The signing of the lease agreement coincides with the beginning of the test flying program for Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo launch vehicle which got underway this month in Mojave, CA. The WhiteKnightTwo will serve as the mother ship for SpaceShipTwo, the vehicle that will carry commercial astronauts into sub-orbital space from Spaceport America."
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Virgin Galactic Signs Historic Lease Agreement

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  • Re:For the record... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ThrowAwaySociety ( 1351793 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @02:04PM (#26291789)

    Burt Rutan is mine.

    Branson is just the Bill Gates of a different industry.

  • by geckipede ( 1261408 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @05:01PM (#26293173)
    Agreed that SSTOs are not the only goal, any form of cheap access to space would be good. I still don't believe that Virgin Galactic's model is going to change anything though. It is forming a new market, but one that is selling expensive experiences to people, on a low profit margin. All the innovation they will be motivated to attempt will be in terms of lowering their costs to allow them to give roughly the same experience as they can offer now to a larger market.
  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @05:25PM (#26293337)

    On top of my other points, you can make significant progress towards an orbital launch vehicle from a suborbital one. The difficulties are exaggerated and already have been well explored in a number of historical vehicles (Space Shuttle, Soyuz, Apollo, Volstok, etc). For example, SpaceShipOne generated about a quarter to a third of the delta v needed to reach orbit. More efficient engines, higher mass ratio, and better propellants can get you the rest of the way. Reentry is similarly exaggerated. Sure the vehicle needs to dissipate somewhere around 40 times as much energy entering the atmosphere from orbit as SpaceShipOne did in its suborbital flights. But that is a solved problem. And as long as the vehicle is much less dense per cross-sectional area than the Space Shuttle, it can use cheaper thermal protection systems (TPS) than the Space Shuttle's tiles. The TPS is spun as a big deal, but there are plenty of ideas and results out there for adequate reentry systems.

    In the meantime, the suborbital vehicle tests the business model, the workforce, the infrastructure, etc. It provides someone for potential investors to study. These are the really important things not the technological issues that people normally fixate on.

  • Re:For the record... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 01, 2009 @07:19PM (#26294369)

    Branson made his initial fortune illegally. he mis-sold export-only records back within the UK. today this is known as carousel fraud - and costs the EU tens of billions revenue.
    he was oh-so-happy to settle out-of-court and pay backdated taxes once all the legitimate competition had fallen by the wayside.

Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this-- no dog exchanges bones with another. -- Adam Smith