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European Launch Site For Virgin Galactic

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the ooh-shiny dept.

Space 94

syguy writes "Sir Richard Branson's sub-orbital space tourism venture, Virgin Galactic, is considering a second launch site in Europe. Already committed to Spaceport America near Upham, New Mexico, USA, Virgin Galactic has signed a deal with the Swedish company Spaceport to investigate providing sub-orbital flights from Kiruna airport, Sweden. This is one of the northernmost commercial airports in the world. Branson is attracted by the possibility of offering flights through the Aurora Borealis. Flights could begin in 2011 or 2012." From the article: "The company said last year they would be conducting research into the safety of such a flight. Scientists have little information on how the storms that produce the northern lights affect spacecraft. [The] joint NASA-Canadian Space Agency THEMIS project will launch five satellites into space in February to monitor the northern lights..."

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But who can afford it? (2, Insightful)

adambha (1048538) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787728)

How long will it take to make something like this available beyond just the super-wealthy?

Re:But who can afford it? (4, Insightful)

therufus (677843) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787780)

The whole endevour is not intended for the general public, this is out and out a publicity exercise just as all Branson escapades are. The stunt will generate publicity for the normal carrier airline and in turn, generate revenue.

Re:But who can afford it? (3, Insightful)

ArcticCelt (660351) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788332)

Like for any technology, early adopters will pay the price. Thanks to the "super-wealthy", more money will flow into research and development to make the technology more affordable.

Re:But who can afford it? (2, Insightful)

KindredHyperion (1043330) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788850)

Interesting how on the video on the flash version of the website [virgingalactic.com] , old Rich describes his company as bringing space travel to people of "all walks of life"... in just how many walks of life can people afford $200,000?? o_O

Re:But who can afford it? (3, Informative)

kylegordon (159137) | more than 7 years ago | (#17789092)

To quote wikipedia...
Furthermore, they believe that over a five-year period only 5,000 passengers would be needed in order to be profitable. Profits from early flights would be reinvested to make space tourism more affordable.

well (4, Funny)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787752)

European Launch Site For Virgin Galactic

If the galaxy has to lose its virginity somewhere, it might as well be in Europe.

Re:well (2, Insightful)

The Crooked Elf (1042996) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787822)

Anyone else click "Read More" specifically to read the virgin joke you knew would be waiting in first post?

Re:well (1)

The Crooked Elf (1042996) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787840)

...or is nobody else that desperate?

Re:well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17788420)

This is Slashdot. We're all that desperate!

Re:well (1)

metlin (258108) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787894)


Personally, I'm all for Virgin Brides [virginbrides.co.uk] !

Er... what? (5, Funny)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787756)

Flying directly through what's essentially a planet-sized cathode ray tube? Isn't that, you know...

Ah forget it, let Darwin sort things out.

Re:Er... what? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787900)

Flying directly through what's essentially a planet-sized cathode ray tube? Isn't that, you know...

You can only really see the northern lights from darkness, so for maximum effect you would have to launch and land in the dark. That wasn't a requirement for SS1. Neither was flying in extreme cold.

SS2 is sounding like a totally different beast from SS1, rather than just being a bigger version of it.

Re:Er... what? (2, Insightful)

qbwiz (87077) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787952)

Doesn't outer space (where SS1 went) count as dark and extreme cold?

Re:Er... what? (3, Informative)

HUADPE (903765) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788092)

Quite the opposite, when a star (namely the Sun) is shining on you, it's really quite hot, and full of EM waves, both light and some less friendly ones. The atmosphere keeps things warm at night and cool in the day. Swinging 300 degrees C when the Sun sets isn't fun.

Re:Er... what? (1)

wikinerd (809585) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788932)

I wonder whether there are better ways at protecting spacecraft from the space environment than stretching the limits of materials science. I wonder whether we could form an artificial atmosphere around a spacecraft, and save on materials, as the artificial atmosphere would be designed to protect the spacecraft in a similar way that our atmosphere protects the planet.

Re:Er... what? (3, Informative)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 7 years ago | (#17789156)

Thickness of said atmosphere would need to be very large. Then the issue of keeping said atmosphere near by.

Re:Er... what? (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 7 years ago | (#17793584)

Informative? Hell, that was barely coherent.

Re:Er... what? (1)

LordVader717 (888547) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788876)

Depends, but the stratosphere certainly does (Spaceship one climbs relatively slowly up to about 15km, when the spacecraft is released. After that the flight only takes a couple of minutes)

Re:Er... what? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17788166)

space is always dark if you don't look at the sun.

Re:Er... what? (3, Funny)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788358)

One of five things could happen: You could get super stretchy, turn invisible, "flame on!", get rocky, or turn to living metal.

Re:Er... what? (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788938)

No-one has ever turned to living metal by going into space. No-one!

Re:Er... what? (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 7 years ago | (#17791274)

No-one has ever turned to living metal by going into space. No-one!

True enough. But if it's any consolation, quite a few people have turned into very dead charcoal.

Okay, bad joke. Move along...

Re:Er... what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17789084)

ISS's orbit often takes it through the aurora with no ill-effects. I believe there have been astronauts on EVAs who have actually been IN the aurora.

Re:Er... what? (1)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 7 years ago | (#17789130)

But the ISS is metal which will do a lot of shielding of little high-speed electrons and such.

The Rutan craft are composite. They will shield some of the radiation but not nearly as much as the ISS shell.

The earth's magnetic field redirects a lot of particles and basically concentrates them at the magnetic poles. The aurora is just the electrons coming down guided by the magnetic lines of force and smashing into atmospheric atoms/molecues and exciting them to give off light.

But that's the rub - there are a whole lot more of them at lower altitudes at the aurora than say, at the equator.

I would want to run a bunch of dosimeters for different kinds of radiation of different energies up on a flight into the aurora before I took people up. I don't trust a composite shell to block as much.

Re:Er... what xrays? (1)

jmichaelg (148257) | more than 7 years ago | (#17790336)

Flying directly through what's essentially a planet-sized cathode ray tube? Isn't that, you know...
The electrons can be more energetic than most crts. Energetic enough to cause x-rays [spasci.com] . What's even worse about Branson's idea is that the stronger x-ray flux will be associated with brighter auroras which is when the passengers will get the most visually impressive experience. So the most visually interesting flights will be when the danger is greatest.

Ah forget it, let Darwin sort things out.
Darwin can work in mysterious ways - the passengers may show no obvious ill effects but wait a few years until they have kids.

Thank you for flying Virgin Galactic (5, Funny)

brainspank (515274) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787762)

Chicken, Fish, or LSD sir?

It's a trap! (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 7 years ago | (#17790726)

Don't choose the fish!

Re:Thank you for flying Virgin Galactic (1)

WeblionX (675030) | more than 7 years ago | (#17791360)

Yes, I remember. I had the lasagna.

Spaceflight through the Northern Lights == badass (1)

Mr Jazzizle (896331) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787768)

Can you even imagine what a sight that would be? Suborbit to see infinite stars already sounds amazing, but dancing lights would make the millions worthwhile. Check out the view from the ISS http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/63/Auro ra_Borealis.jpg/ [wikimedia.org] (640k link) That said, count me surprised if flying an extraordinarily complex spaceship through ionic storms, but maybe I'm overestimating what it exactly does, despite glancing through the wiki article on northern lights.

Worth It (1)

JDelta (1035746) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787806)

While the price tag is enormous (around +$200,000 USD), it would be one in a lifetime for you to see outer space, and not to mention the "dancing lights" aurora borealis Mr Jazzizle mentioned.

Re:Worth It (1)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787868)

"it would be one in a lifetime for you to see outer space"

Especially if the shuttle crashes and they all die.

Re:Worth It (1)

therufus (677843) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787988)

"it would be one in a lifetime for you to see outer space"

Alternatively, one could look in the direction opposite the ground you're standing on. During the night is even more effective. This usually costs nothing at all, although you do have to go outside.

Re:Worth It (1)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788394)

and find a remote area with little light pollution. it's not so easy as it used to be to just look up and enjoy the night sky.

Re:Worth It (2, Funny)

QuickFox (311231) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788890)

although you do have to go outside.
Come on, try to be realistic! This is Slashdot!

Outer space??? (1)

master_p (608214) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788964)

Outer space means outside of the solar system, at least.

This Virgin Galactic thing is a joke, and it is more wishful thinking and an advertisement than something that brings humanity to a new era of space flight.

And personally, as a Star Trek fan, I find it appauling that the USS Enterprise can travel the solar system in 1 hour, yet in reality all we can do is a few 100s kms above the Earth's surface.

Re:Outer space??? (1)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17789424)

Outer space means outside of the solar system, at least.
Er, no it doesn't.

Outer space is anywhere outside an atmosphere, or distinct from airspace. Check it out. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Outer space??? (1)

master_p (608214) | more than 7 years ago | (#17797430)

That's the formal definition. In every day language, 'outer space' means 'outside of the solar system'.

Re:Worth It (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 7 years ago | (#17791372)

While the price tag is enormous (around +$200,000 USD), it would be one in a lifetime for you to see outer space, and not to mention the "dancing lights" aurora borealis Mr Jazzizle mentioned.

Since I'm not even thirty yet, I'm kinda hoping that I'll be able to buy a trip to to the Moon to celebrate my retirement for $200.

Does anyone know of any fundrisings for "X-Price 2: Low Earth Orbit" or something similar where I could invest some of my meager income to make this happen ?

Re:Worth It (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17792214)

By the time routine lunar travel becomes possible, US $200 will be barely enough to buy a candy bar at the spaceport.

Let's see some flights (2, Interesting)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787808)

Then get excited

what the hell? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17787832)

Branson is attracted by the possibility of offering flights THROUGH the Aurora Borealis.
>>Auroras are now known to be caused by the collision of charged particles (e.g. electrons), found in the magnetosphere, with atoms in the Earth's upper atmosphere (at altitudes above 80 km). These charged particles are typically energized to levels between 1 thousand and 15 thousand electronvolts and, as they collide with atoms of gases in the atmosphere, the atoms become energized.
>>As well as visible light, auroras emit infrared (NIR and IR) and ultraviolet (UV) rays as well as X-rays (e.g. as observed by the Polar spacecraft).
So they are paying 200k+ to get radiated, gj virgin!

Re:what the hell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17787942)

Maybe the craft is radiation shielded. It is a space ship after all. Did you consider that?

Re:what the hell? (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788020)

Beta-rays (essentially, very fast electrons) are easily shielded with a centimeter of wax or polyethylene.

And auroras actually are not very energetic - they are caused NOT by sun's radiation, but by particles which normally orbit the Earth along force lines of magnetic fields. During sun flares Earth's magnetic field distorts and these stored particles collide with the atmosphere.

Speaking of auroras... (1)

Anonymous McCartneyf (1037584) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788078)

I wonder what flying a spacecraft through an aurora would do to the aurora?
I am reasonably certain that flying a spacecraft through an aurora would do something to it. But would it amplify the aurora for those of us on earth, or kill it?

Re:Speaking of auroras... (2, Informative)

Sterling Christensen (694675) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788576)

Suppose a small weather system had an airliner fly through one of its clouds. Probably as much of an effect as that.

Re:Speaking of auroras... (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#17790208)

It's not quite that. Relatively speaking, the rocket will probably provide several orders of magnitude more material to that part of the aurora than the airliner would to its part of the weather system. Still may be insignificant.

Re:what the hell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17797680)

Beta-rays (essentially, very fast electrons) are easily shielded with a centimeter of wax or polyethylene.

And muons..?

Re:what the hell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17788026)

So they are paying 200k+ to get radiated, gj virgin!
Just think how many hours at the tanning salon that's worth!

Re:what the hell? (1)

Aerovoid (590728) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788068)

15,000eV may sound like a lot, but it's not really. There's about 20,000eV of energy hitting your T.V. screen. And I don't think the radiation emitted from the aurora's (IR, UV, X-rays, etc) could be any worse than what we already get directly from the Sun.

virgin and marketing (3, Insightful)

romit_icarus (613431) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787844)

Going by past record, =aAnything that virgin announces has to be tempered with a dose of reality. The fact is that Branson is a master in using PR publicity as marketing. In fact he has been often quoted in interviews saying that a headline and a newsworthy article is worth more than ad dollars (and he's right). Virgin Galactic is a good long term indea. It also makes for great news. Right now he has had "agreements" with launch sites. Let's see how much money he puts on the table, let's see some test flights and then we can judge.

Sweden vs... Canada? + Google Maps (1)

Lord Satri (609291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787946)

Ok, interesting, but how does this space launch site compares to the previously slashdottly discussed Nova Scotia site [slashdot.org] ? (yes, already in other comments, but no links provided as far as I could find)

While we're at it. The Sweden launch site on Google Maps [google.ca] .

"This provides us with Europe's first obvious place for suborbital space flights," said Susan Newsam, spokeswoman at Virgin Galactic, who adds that "flying into the aurora borealis has never been done before."
Ok, I don't get it. What's the point? I thought the closer to the equator the better (less energy required to reach "space"), thus ESA's space launch site at Kourou, French Guyana.

yes and no (5, Informative)

ArcSecond (534786) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788002)

Closer to the equator minimizes the amount of energy you have to put in to get something into orbit, since the earth's rotational velocity at the equator is maximal, and the distance from the center of gravity is greater (planets bulge at their equators).

But keep in mind, we are not talking about rockets and putting stuff into orbit. These craft are still more aero than space and the aren't being boosted into high orbit. Also, convenience for the target audience (rich people) is at a premium, not fuel.

Re:Sweden vs... Canada? + Google Maps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17788022)

We are sorry, but we dont have imagery fir this zoom level for this region, because well, we are gonna be the first to fuck the space aliens, and you can't watch.

You can here though.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1NOv7iHPRk [youtube.com]

Re:Sweden vs... Canada? + Google Maps (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788082)

Just going up and down. The difference in gravity-centripetal acceleration between the poles and equator is small.

Re:Sweden vs... Canada? + Google Maps (1)

Anonymous McCartneyf (1037584) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788084)

Closer to the equator is better for getting spacecraft into space. It is, however, far worse for flying into the aurora borealis.

Re:Sweden vs... Canada? + Google Maps (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788242)

"Ok, I don't get it. What's the point? I thought the closer to the equator the better".


No, not necessarily so. From wikipedia:

Spaceport [wikipedia.org] : Typically preferred are launches from near the equator in an easterly direction. This allows maximum use of the Earth's rotational speed, and a good orientation for arriving at a geostationary orbit. The rotational boost increases the amount of mass that can be lifted to a given orbit with a given amount of fuel. For polar or Molniya orbits, these aspects do not apply.


Molniya Orbit [wikipedia.org] : Molniya orbit is a class of a highly elliptic orbit with inclination of 63.4 and orbital period of about 12 hours. A satellite placed in this orbit spends most of its time over a designated area of the earth, a phenomenon known as apogee dwell.







Careful there (1)

p3d0 (42270) | more than 7 years ago | (#17795176)

These "aspects" do not apply to Molniya orbits because you typically want your satellite in some exact position over the Earth. Thus, you don't get to pick the orbit to minimize delta-v. The info you've given doesn't apply to polar orbits.

Re:Careful there (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 7 years ago | (#17796114)

Thanks for the correction!

In a previous post you posed: "Why ask Slashdot when you can ask Wikipedia?" [slashdot.org]

Well, good question. My answer today would be, don't trust the quick answers from armchair astronomers at Slashdot who don't know how to interpret what they read at Wikipedia.



Thanks!

:)

Oops -- correction to my correction (1)

p3d0 (42270) | more than 7 years ago | (#17803666)

The info you gave does indeed apply to polar orbits (for the same reason as the Molniya orbits. What it doesn't apply to is sub-orbital flights. Those are all about altitude and vertical speed, not horizontal speed.

Aerial photograph of launch site (1)

Jott42 (702470) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788968)

Here is a link to an aerial photograph of the launch site, which is not inside the city of Kiruna, but close by. http://tinyurl.com/2d6qna [tinyurl.com]

Re:Sweden vs... Canada? + Google Maps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17803776)

The point ?

The location seems pretty obvious. Using an existing launch site and range has many great benefits, such as lots of different eyes to the skies (ionometers, magnetometers, all sky cameras...), weather stations, few to none commercial airline flightpaths, EMT personal trained on rocket fuels, rentable rocket engine testing hangars & facilities, infrastructure and storages for rocket fuel, a metric ass-ton of available aerospace engineers on site and if failure, the vehicle won't drop down on people et cetera.

Kourou is to far away from Europe and its main benefit is when launching crap into orbit anyway.
If you want to haul European ass into space then it's convenient to launch from Europe.

This leaves Esrange and Andøya, if you want to show of aurora boeralis from an established European site.
I don't know what made them prefer Esrange over Andøya but a guess is that they'll do package deals with IceHotel [icehotel.com] in Jukkasjärvi.

mo3 up (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17787992)

obsessives and the pRoduct, BSD's

Oh my God! You know what *that* means . . . (4, Funny)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787996)

" . . . flights THROUGH the Aurora Borealis."

I hope Branson screens his passengers carefully, because everything I know about Science and Comics says they're going to come back with super powers.

Is the world ready for Team Virgin and assorted super-villains?

Re:Oh my God! You know what *that* means . . . (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17789534)

Is the world ready for Team Virgin

They've already been around for years, although they've been going by the less memorable moniker of "Slashdotters".

No Justice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17788076)

The guy who inflicted Hungarian Notation on us gets to fly in space.

There is no justice.

Richard Branson is anything but Virgin (1)

ravee (201020) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788190)

I happened to read the autobiography of Richard Branson titled "Losing my virginity" which makes a fascinating read. And this book provides a peep into the kind of turbulent life he led in his younger days. So I find it really funny that he had to name his company "Virgin".

But I admire him for his active participation in adventure sports - such as his endeavor to circumvent the globe in a hot air balloon. And how he made his billions through his slew of virgin companies including a music store chain (Virgin records) and airlines company.

So it is no surprise that Richard has now set his eyes on outer space.

Re:Richard Branson is anything but Virgin (1)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788892)

Okay Richard you can get back to editing your Wikipedia article now..

Re:Richard Branson is anything but Virgin (1)

D-Cypell (446534) | more than 7 years ago | (#17797488)

I happened to read the autobiography of Richard Branson titled "Losing my virginity"
I've read this too. Highly recommended. Branson isn't a 'geek' in the strictest sense, but is certainly a bit of an 'odd ball'.

I had to laugh when watching his 'The Apprentice' clone (which was vastly superior IMO), and the contestents were taken to the huge annual party that he throws on his estate for all his staff. It was just like a huge circus, with all kinds of performers. One of the contestents was quoted as saying.... "So... THIS is what happens when a hippy makes a billion dollars!" :o)

Esrange attraction (3, Informative)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788196)

I doubt it was Kiruna's commercial airport that attracted. While little known outside Sweden, and definitely unheard of in USA, Franse, and Russia, Sweden has launched space rockets since 1966 in a station called Esrange. They apparently hope to sky rocket their already impressive launch list [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Esrange attraction (1)

oPless (63249) | more than 7 years ago | (#17790380)

> ... and definitely unheard of in USA, Franse, and Russia, Sweden has launched space rockets since 1966

It's spelled FRANCE by the way :o)

Wha? (1)

dekkerdreyer (1007957) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788262)

Hmmm... flying through high energy plasma caught in bounce motion in the magnetosphere. Doesn't sound like fun to me.

Furthermore, if you're launching from a high inclination you need a lot more fuel to get up to orbiting velocity. Why do you think everyone else launches their rockets from the equator?

Re:Wha? (1)

danhuby (759002) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788634)

Orbital velocity? They are suborbital flights only.

Re:Wha? (1)

ricky-road-flats (770129) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788844)

They're not going to orbit or orbital velocity. They're doing 30-minute trips, not putting satellites in stable orbits. They just need to be near a lot of rich potential passengers, and Western Europe has quite a few.

Do they really know what they are doing? (3, Informative)

Billy the Mountain (225541) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788292)

I wonder why they said in the article "Scientists have little information on how the storms that produce the northern lights affect spacecraft." Scientific research on the Aurora Borealis has been ongoing at the Poker Flat Research Range, located 30 miles north of Fairbanks Alaska, for almost 40 years where they have been routinely launching sounding rockets into the Aurora Borealis to study it's characteristics. http://www.pfrr.alaska.edu/ [alaska.edu] .

BTM

Re:Do they really know what they are doing? (1)

Looke (260398) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788780)

They've done the same kind of research at the Kiruna site [wikipedia.org] for the last, well, 40 years...

Re:Do they really know what they are doing? (1)

Anonymous McCartneyf (1037584) | more than 7 years ago | (#17796074)

Have they done any of that kind of research with manned spacecraft? Or will Virgin Galactic's passengers be guinea pigs?

Those poor fools... (1)

ChainedFei (1054192) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788492)

They'll get stuck in the past and the Langoliers will eat them up!

Re:Those poor fools... (1)

Renfield Spiffioso (982789) | more than 7 years ago | (#17789186)

For what they're paying for the flight they'd better damn well be awake. Case in point: they'll just evaporate.

aurora borealis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17788544)

Either use Optical cabling for their control system or have good shielding, and wear lead underwear if you are gona fly through the aurora borealis :)

Kiruna (2, Informative)

tengwar (600847) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788672)

I've been through Kiruna a few times to go walking. It's a big, sparsely populated mining and forestry town in the Saami (Lapp) area of the north of Sweden. The air connection has to be subsidised by the government, and it's a long flight from Stockholm Arlanda in a very small plane. The air crew come round to ask who would like a taxi called for them at the airport. When you arrive, there's a single small luggage carousel and a large stuffed bear in Arrivals.

Swedish news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17788738)

While watching the news here in Sweden I got the impression of that the deal had already been struck, they even showed fancy 3d rendered simulations of the flights and stuff, probably from virgins website.

Relocating the town (2, Interesting)

QuickFox (311231) | more than 7 years ago | (#17788952)

The people of Kiruna are not only space exploration experts, they are also good at moving houses [thelocal.se] .

Virgin Galactic - bollocks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17789200)

Customer: I would like to go on a tour of the Galaxy please.
Virgin Galactic: SUre no problem that's £20,000 and it will last 2 days including training.
Customer: The whole Galaxy in 2 days, wow!
Virgin Galactic: Not exactly.
Customer: Huh what is this 'not excatly'?
Virgin Galactic: Well, we send you up in a rocket, it flies around a wee bit and then you come back.
Customer: Some fscking Galaxy! I bet the toilets stink as well (Virgin Rail joke)

Branson's Environmental Concerns Are...? (1)

ajpr (921401) | more than 7 years ago | (#17789268)

He said he was giving the profits from the next few years (~$3 billion) into ecological research/technology I think.

So I guess sending up people on the most wasteful use of natural resources is a good idea? Currently in the UK there's a lot of argument around the tax exemption airlines get on fuel, which is playing a large part in CO2 emmissions. This sounds like it's going to undo a lot of hardwork if the flights become popular (say 5+ per week). If someone does the maths I'm sure it will work out as many orders of magnitude worse than air travel, and this isn't even going to transport people but be used for leisure.

Re:Branson's Environmental Concerns Are...? (1)

Mark_MF-WN (678030) | more than 7 years ago | (#17793652)

5000 spaceplane launches a year seem like a lot, but it's really not that bad. The regular air-travel industry and the marine shipping industry are far, far worse offenders. A few space plane flights means virtually nothing. And there's nothing to say that the fuel (the cheapest part of a spaceplane ride) can't be made from non-petroleum derived hydrocarbons. Kerosene is normally derived from crude, but it's very similar to, oh, let's say ... whale oil (I kid, I kid). Seriously, there are almost certainly usable airplane fuels that we can derive from organic matter.


Besides, what else are rich suckers going to spend their money on? Hummer-Limousines? Helicopter rides? Chartered cruises? Condor-egg omelettes? Nigerian babies? White Rhino testes? Siberian albino tiger axillary lymph nodes served over ground orphan bones? Hunting the world's least dangerous prey -- humans? Buying entire American states to convert into their future burial plots? Dredging the Marianas trench for tourist pennies? Tossing Star Trek fans into volcanoes? Having Pythagoras cloned and then forced to go-go dance for Pesos?


These people are desperate. If they don't find some creative ways to dispose of their income, they might end up having to do something useful or socially positive with it. Have some fucking compassion, man. We can't let it come to that. Branson is saving them.

More importantly... (1)

JHaselden (11680) | more than 7 years ago | (#17789302)

"Scientists have little information on how the storms that produce the northern lights affect spacecraft." - I'd like some consideration of how spacecraft will affect the Aurora Borealis. It would be terrible if this wonderful display was disrupted or ruined for everyone.

Re:More importantly... (1)

Arcturax (454188) | more than 7 years ago | (#17789386)

I doubt it will do much. Unmanned test rockets have gone there before and nothing bad happened.

I'd worry more about the people one board. Sounds like a good way to go up and come back sterile and ripe for having cancer later in life.

Normally the Earth's magnetic field protects us from the sun's charged particles and particles from space. Even the ISS and the shuttle still fly inside the field. The moon is outside it and Apollo astronauts did notice some radiation effects, such as seeing flashes of light when closing their eyes, caused by charged particles hitting their retinas and optic nerves.

However the Earth's magnetic field does concentrate the radiation in two areas, the near the north and south poles of the planet. So people flying on this ship could get a nasty dose of radiation flying up into this, especially if there is a solar flare remnant hitting the earth's magnetic field at the time. Granted I haven't seen anyt data on the radiation levels up there, but when dealing with radiation, you really want to protect yourself from any unnecessary exposure to high amounts of it. It may be that most people who go up there will be fine since it is a short duration. But there will still be a risk that one or more of them could be unlucky and wind up with cancer caused by this exposure.

Re:More importantly... (1)

Anonymous McCartneyf (1037584) | more than 7 years ago | (#17796104)

The Virgin Galactic passengers will be flying up there specifically to see that radiation close up. That is what auroras are made of, right?

More details from yahoo (1)

syguy (1055924) | more than 7 years ago | (#17790830)

I noticed that yahoo has picked up this story with their own article [yahoo.com] .

New headline (1)

ms1234 (211056) | more than 7 years ago | (#17791956)

"European launch site for virgins"

langaliers! (1)

krnpimpsta (906084) | more than 7 years ago | (#17792146)

Langaliers. That is all.

Any news since 2004? (1)

heroine (1220) | more than 7 years ago | (#17793206)

It's now almost 3 years since a private company got a human into space. These are the guys who said NASA didn't have the right stuff and private startups were the future. Where are those private startups now?

Re:Any news since 2004? (1)

Mark_MF-WN (678030) | more than 7 years ago | (#17793708)

Smaller and smaller governments are managing to put things in orbit. More and more private citizens are buying trips into space, albeit aboard government equipment. There have actually BEEN private launches.

Patience man, patience. We're advancing at a fantastic rate, when you get right down to it. Space is an incredibly challenging place to travel to; if private companies are putting satellites into LEO within ten years and manned craft into LEO in twenty, that will be a FANTASTIC accomplishment.

Cosmic Radiation! (1)

reshin (70987) | more than 7 years ago | (#17793632)

"The company said last year they would be conducting research into the safety of such a flight. Scientists have little information on how the storms that produce the northern lights affect spacecraft. [The] joint NASA-Canadian Space Agency THEMIS project will launch five satellites into space in February to monitor the northern lights..."


Sounds like this ride could be the perfect culmination of a Fantastic Four experience fantasy camp.



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