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Virgin Galactic - the first step?

  1. Nov 2, 2011 #1
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 2, 2011 #2


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    Branson's product is cool, but it is nowhere close to that. It flies so slow and low, it stretches the definition of "space travel" pretty thin and more to the point, isn't something that can just be scaled-up to an orbital vehicle.
  4. Nov 2, 2011 #3
    Russ is right,
    It is very cool, but the speed they fly at is nowhere near enough for true orbit, let alont reaching escape velocity. They fly a parabolic trajectory that breaches the somewhat arbitrary "atmosphere" limit. They call it space flight because they fly above the altitude which is required for someone to be called an "astronaut".

    The SABRE engine looks like it could do something, but we will have to wait and see.
  5. Nov 2, 2011 #4


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    I think Branson's main contribution is in recruiting badly needed finances. In additon to renewing public interest, his business model could make commercial space travel profitable. As with any startup business, the majority of these profits will be put into R.&D. Now, I almost said that this is "all" that virgin galactic has accomplished. However, seeing that lack of public interest, and the corresponding lack of funding, are the main hinderances to the advancement of human space travel, I suppose this is the biggest contribution that could be made.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2011
  6. Nov 2, 2011 #5


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    Virgin galactic could be a fairly good starter to space tourism. A few flights here and there taking rich customers to the edge (or just into) the boundary of space with the profits going into developing the next generation product; for VG that looks to be SpaceShipThree. Still not an Earth to orbit space plane or anything like that but it is proposed to be a point-to-point suborbital transport system allowing you to get to the far side of the world in just a couple of hours. I could easily imagine a few billionaires, corporations and governments ordering a few of those.
  7. Nov 2, 2011 #6


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    Branson is running a BUSINESS. He will likely be in the "space exploration business" only to the extent that it can BE a business. Right now that points to space tourism and nothing else. I'm not aware of any economic model using current technology that shows a ROI for any other space activity.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  8. Nov 3, 2011 #7
    Great responses all...

    I read a review a year or so back suggesting that the Branson's of the world will be the first to set up Moon mining and sell the benefits back to govts. A huge speculation investment, though it seems we're growing more and more billionaires. It modeled the economics against current and emerging technology. It went on to say that within 50 to 100 years, there will probably be one or two attempts at it before someone gets it right and turns it into a better than viable business. Bill Gates in Space? I'll see if I can find the article.
  9. Nov 3, 2011 #8


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    We had a moon mining discussion here recently. The simple answer is you are going to need some very, very sophisticated technology to make shipping a mining operation to the Moon economical. The only possible reason you would do it is because resources you can mine there would have a smaller gravity well to get out of but that again overlooks the staggering cost of setting up mines and factories on the Moon.
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