https://twitter.com/blueorigin/status/1413521631717122059 (mirror):

enter image description here

vs. https://space.stackexchange.com/a/54072/1111 by John Thomas:

[Virgin Galactic's passengers] do appear to be wearing parachutes.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Did they mention the price difference anywhere as well? Because they simply don't offer the same service. $\endgroup$
    – Mast
    Jul 12, 2021 at 10:01
  • $\begingroup$ You don't have parachutes in regular air-planes; surely any escape route/device mainly serves the purpose of giving passengers false peace of mind. $\endgroup$
    – Mr. Boy
    Jul 12, 2021 at 11:25
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ You want to jump next to a burning rocket motor?? To date every actual use of a launch escape system has involved situations where jumping would be suicide. $\endgroup$ Jul 12, 2021 at 18:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ they also claim it's not a rocket... It's in fact an aircraft shaped rocket just like the Space Shuttle was. $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Jul 13, 2021 at 6:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JonathanReez the first civilian flight was last week. $\endgroup$
    – OrangeDog
    Jul 14, 2021 at 13:05

2 Answers 2


First of all, it should be clear that this infographic is by no means objective; it's designed to put SS2 in the worst possible light, and New Shepard in the best.

That said, an "escape system" in the rocket launch context normally means an automatic rocket-powered system which takes the crew capsule rapidly away from a malfunctioning or exploding booster.

In SS2, where the crew compartment and the rocket motor are integrally combined in one fuselage, there's no way for the crew to get away from the motor. The parachutes might save a crew if the airframe fails on the way down, after the rocket motor has burned out completely, but otherwise, they're not very useful as a safety measure.

  • 10
    $\begingroup$ Speaking of "getting away from the motor" --- in New Shepard they are literally sitting right beside the escape SRM. cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/escapemotor.jpg $\endgroup$ Jul 11, 2021 at 17:25
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    $\begingroup$ Clearly they need secondary escape motors to get away from the escape motor! $\endgroup$ Jul 11, 2021 at 17:26
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    $\begingroup$ We have an example of the parachutes in use, unfortunately. Peter Siebold and Michael Alsbury were the pilot and copilot on VSS Enterprise's last flight. Siebold managed to unstrap himself from his seat after it fell free from the breaking up aircraft, and his parachute deployed automatically after he lost consciousness, but Alsbury's remains were found still strapped into his seat in the wreckage. For much of the flight, you can't realistically expect to escape the vehicle if things go wrong, and even if you manage that you're unlikely to get out uninjured. $\endgroup$ Jul 11, 2021 at 17:49
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    $\begingroup$ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… also details some of his injuries. His exit from the vehicle was not an easy or gentle one. $\endgroup$ Jul 11, 2021 at 18:12
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    $\begingroup$ I wonder if Virgin chose a hybrid motor for safety reasons. It can be shut down unlike a solid engine, and yet isn't prone to cause a fiery explosion when fuel and oxidiser of a liquid engine mix. So getting away from the motor is perhaps not as critical for SS2 as it is for New Shepard. $\endgroup$ Jul 12, 2021 at 9:46

Because this isn't an informational infographic. This is an ad. And, as such, it is deliberately skewed to paint the advertised product in the best possible light, while disparaging the competing product(s) as much as possible.

As mentioned in the other answer, Virgin Galactic doesn't have a "Launch Escape System" It does have other safety systems in the event of an emergency , but there's nothing that requires Blue Origin to tell people about their competitor's products. Lying by omission is one of the most common, if not the most common, lies that advertisers use.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Interesting that they believe there is enough of a market for this service that it's worth putting out advertising for it. I mean, of course there's a market in that a lot of people who would want to do it, but how many could afford it at this point? $\endgroup$ Jul 12, 2021 at 19:22
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    $\begingroup$ @DarrelHoffman Yeah, I don't know who they were targeting. Maybe their marketing department just wanted to keep in practice? $\endgroup$ Jul 12, 2021 at 20:43
  • $\begingroup$ @HiddenWindshield maybe the FAA and they're hoping Virgin's launch license gets pulled? $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Jul 13, 2021 at 6:52
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    $\begingroup$ This industry is rapidly growing, it does not hurt to plan for the near future when prices won't be so high. $\endgroup$
    – eps
    Jul 13, 2021 at 13:32
  • $\begingroup$ @eps Good point. $\endgroup$ Jul 13, 2021 at 16:06

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