PB666

Virgin Galactic, Branson's space venture

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This thread is established for the discussion of Virgin Galactic

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-35002459

i don't think this is new, but i guess its now formal that they are going to use 747 for a launch platform. 

My critique here is that in that class the 777 is a better choice, given that it has a slightly higher flight ceiling and is less cistly to get to that altitude and back. If one is looking for altitude why not find an old concorde, if they still exist

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And where exactly would you hang a rocket underneath a Boeing 777 ?

The Concordes have all been retired. Their flightworthiness certificates have been revoked and any spare parts have been sold off and liquidated.

It's quite ironic that Stratolaunch is looking for a rocket for their plane, and Virgin Galactic is looking for a plane for their rocket, yet they seem to be ignoring each other.

Air launch is not about ceiling. It's not about speed either. Actually, it's a false good idea, and I think neither of them are going anywhere.

Edited by Nibb31

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4 hours ago, Nibb31 said:

And where exactly would you hang a rocket underneath a Boeing 777 ?

The Concordes have all been retired. Their flightworthiness certificates have been revoked and any spare parts have been sold off and liquidated.

It's quite ironic that Stratolaunch is looking for a rocket for their plane, and Virgin Galactic is looking for a plane for their rocket, yet they seem to be ignoring each other.

Air launch is not about ceiling. It's not about speed either. Actually, it's a false good idea, and I think neither of them are going anywhere.

Stratolauch is more dead in the water than Virgin right now.

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Virgin and Strato are not ignoring each other.  They had a deal a while back but it fell apart mainly because of Stratolaunch deciding to make their own plane from scratch instead of just joining two 747s together.

Also it is not likely that Strato will succeed but i do see that if they get their plane working well that Virgin will switch some payloads to it.  Also Strato's plane needs a stupid long runway to take off from where as the 747 especially unloaded has a LOT more options.  and hanging a big lump of mass off the 747 is already proven.  A 747 can ferry a 5th engine by hanging it in the exact same spot the rocket is.

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When I saw this news I was confused as I thought this was what White Knight Two was for.

It also made me wonder about whether White Knight Two was even necessary at all!

BTW they are trying to get a Concorde flying again (they are currently trying to raise money).

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LauncherOne was looking too expensive compared to new competitors in the class like Electron. They decided they could scale it up about 2* and still have comparable price, but this would be too heavy for WK2.

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8 hours ago, Nibb31 said:

And where exactly would you hang ......

Sorry i cant quote this properly, please link the file p, I will follow the link the advanced imbedded medias make editing quotes very difficult on hand helds. 

First, if you are launching a rocket from a 777 you don,t really need significant fuel so you can lower the wing loading a place the rocket on the outside of the jet engine. The diasadvantage of the 777 is mach limit is a bit lower than 747, but the whole point of a high altitude launch is to get the rocket above the mess. 

While the 777 is going to have an orientation of about 8' at its altitude max, the concorde easily gains altitude at 44,000 and with a reduction in fuel can really gain altitude rapidly and launch a rocket above mach 1 above 30000 feet. 

Operating cost for an old 747 is pretty high. 

 

,

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Yeah, but Virgin already has a bunch of old 747s, as well as maintenance crews, spare parts, etc...

Also, they are using a hardpoint that already exists on 747s for ferrying spare engines:

VH-OJN1.jpg

This means that there is no heavy structural work. All in all, this should be cheaper than buying a new plane.

But in the end, it's all a lot of complication for nothing. The gain in dV is negligeable. Since they are designing a rocket from scratch anyway, they might as well ground launch it and do away with the air launch altogether.

Edited by Nibb31

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17 minutes ago, Nibb31 said:

Yeah, but Virgin already has a bunch of old 747s, as well as maintenance crews, spare parts, etc...

Also, they are using a hardpoint that already exists on 747s for ferrying spare engines:

VH-OJN1.jpg

This means that there is no heavy structural work. All in all, this should be cheaper than buying a new plane.

But in the end, it's all a lot of complication for nothing. The gain in dV is negligeable. Since they are designing a rocket from scratch anyway, they might as well ground launch it and do away with the air launch altogether.

The one advantage I see is in launch infrastructure. Instead of renting a dedicate launch pad with full time maintinance and not enough use to drive down costs, you rent a mass market 747 hanger ad a commercial runway that shares it;'s upkeep cost across thousands or normal flights a year.

It doesnt help get to space, but it does make space cheaper... on the ground side.

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In practice this would probably fly from spaceport America, so VG actually would be paying almost all of the costs to maintain the runway. 

Edited by Kryten

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You can't fly from any airport, because most airports that are large enough to handle 747s aren't equipped to store and handle rocket fuel.

Edited by Nibb31

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33 minutes ago, Nibb31 said:

You can't fly from any airport, because most airports that are large enough to handle 747s aren't equipped to store and handle rocket fuel.

777 has short runway take off and land capability, with a half load of fuel its about the same as a 737. 

If she was announcing from san antonio she maybe talking about 18/36 at lacklandwhich is used to handling fully loaded galaxy c5a and 747 , it was a piggy shuttle stopover. 

It used to be a usaf training center that has now become a contractor area for military stuff.m

Edited by PB666

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Yes, but they aren't using a 777, they are using a 747. I don't know why you keep on insisting on a 777.

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Air launch to orbit is a proven concept, and I think it is 747 for practicality not performance. The carrier aircraft doesn't need to go especially high to get the rocket above most of the atmosphere; the real advantage is it can then use a near-vacuum-optimised nozzle, and you also save on air drag and potentially on gravity drag. There are also operational advantages. The exact altitude I don't see as critical - the difference between 35,000 feet and 40,000 feet isn't much.

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2 hours ago, Nibb31 said:

Yes, but they aren't using a 777, they are using a 747. I don't know why you keep on insisting on a 777.

Cause it iritates you?

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Gentlemen, Virgin are using the 747 for test flights only. When they take passengers it will be launched as usual.

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LauncherOne is not carrying passengers. It's a small satellite launcher.

 

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VG have received a commercial spaceflights operator's licence for SS2;

http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ast/licenses_permits/media/Virgin Galactic License Orders_07_29_20161.pdf

The licence allows them to carry commercial non-deployed payloads, and opens the door to carrying 'spaceflight participants' as the FAA calls them. Passenger flights require FAA approval after flight testing, but wouldn't require a new licence. For comparison, the FAA experimental licence Blue are performing their New Shepard flights under doesn't allow any commercial payloads or passengers under any circumstances; this gives VG a much-needed leg-up relative to Blue.

 

 In other news, VG have started doing taxi tests on the new SS2, VSS Unity. It'll be flying captive with a few weeks, and free probably within a couple of months.

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On 12/4/2015 at 10:41 AM, Nibb31 said:

[deleted]

It's quite ironic that Stratolaunch is looking for a rocket for their plane, and Virgin Galactic is looking for a plane for their rocket, yet they seem to be ignoring each other.

Air launch is not about ceiling. It's not about speed either. Actually, it's a false good idea, and I think neither of them are going anywhere.

Actually it is more about a dead end that works well for small rockets and fails to scale.  Even the scaling issues isn't so much a problem if you are willing to build a first stage rocket to replace your airplane.  If you need a larger cargo for your Pegasus than can be air-launched, Orbital will launch it as a minotaur (a Pegasus with a surplus Peacekeeper first stage).

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On 5.12.2015 at 9:08 AM, Nibb31 said:

Yeah, but Virgin already has a bunch of old 747s, as well as maintenance crews, spare parts, etc...

Also, they are using a hardpoint that already exists on 747s for ferrying spare engines:

VH-OJN1.jpg

This means that there is no heavy structural work. All in all, this should be cheaper than buying a new plane.

But in the end, it's all a lot of complication for nothing. The gain in dV is negligeable. Since they are designing a rocket from scratch anyway, they might as well ground launch it and do away with the air launch altogether.

I think they did this to troll planespotters with an 5 engine 747. Yes having extra hardpoings makes some sense for an flexible platform. Think they also drop pegasus from 747. 

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2 minutes ago, magnemoe said:

I think they did this to troll planespotters with an 5 engine 747. Yes having extra hardpoings makes some sense for an flexible platform. Think they also drop pegasus from 747. 

Nope.  They use a Lockheed L-1011 and before that a B-52.  A quick googling says they have a flight ceiling within a few percent, and the L-1011 can fly ~10% faster.

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1 hour ago, wumpus said:

Nope.  They use a Lockheed L-1011 and before that a B-52.  A quick googling says they have a flight ceiling within a few percent, and the L-1011 can fly ~10% faster.

Thanks, I just saw it under an passenger jet and knew it used B52 before, I thought it was weird as it has been some discussion about using commercial cargo planes as bombers and this dropped 20 ton at once who is a lot.
 

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On 04.12.2015 at 6:41 PM, Nibb31 said:

And where exactly would you hang a rocket underneath a Boeing 777 ?

 

11 hours ago, Kryten said:

VSS Unity's first captive-carry flight is happening now.

Cr2r4NtVYAEUWwe.jpg

Like this, but twin Boeing.

Edited by kerbiloid

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