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53 votes

Does Virgin Galactic experience real weightlessness?

This is a point worth emphasizing: When you dive off a high dive, or go on a free fall ride at an amusement park, or fly on Virgin Galactic, you are experiencing weightlessness in exactly the same way ...
Mark Foskey's user avatar
42 votes
Accepted

Why does Blue Origin claim Virgin Galactic's spaceplane doesn’t have an escape system whereas Virgin Galactic's passengers are wearing parachutes?

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&...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
33 votes
Accepted

Does Virgin Galactic experience real weightlessness?

Yes, for a few minutes. It is similar to what is done in a zero gravity airplane flight, but a longer period of time. Also, orbital weightlessness is basically the same thing, the spacecraft and you ...
PearsonArtPhoto's user avatar
  • 121k
23 votes

Why does Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo need a carrier airplane?

The carrier plane is acting as a minimal first stage. By getting the vehicle to 40,000 feet and to a couple of hundred miles per hour of speed, it takes away the hardest first part of flight. This ...
geoffc's user avatar
  • 79.6k
19 votes

Why is (conventional) ramjet not used for 2nd stage of rocket propulsion?

What is the use of a second stage using ramjet in a height where the remaining air is very, very thin? The Falcon 1 first stage is used up to a height of 90 km, the second stage reaches a height of ...
Uwe's user avatar
  • 1,714
16 votes

What does it take for a craft to perform a flight simulating weightlessness without having to fly a steep parabola/ellipse?

In order to achieve "weightlessness", you don't need to achieve a certain speed, you need to achieve a certain acceleration. Earth pulls down at approximately 9.8 m/s^2 which means that any object ...
Dragongeek's user avatar
  • 18.8k
15 votes

Could the SpaceShipOne fly again?

There is absolutely no reason to ever even conceive of flying it again. It was retired because it successfully did the sole task it was designed to do. SpaceShipOne was unsafe1, barely met its ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
10 votes
Accepted

Why did the SpaceShipTwo's ascent have to be aborted if the feather system wasn't unlocked in time?

If the feather system failed to unlock they would die on entry, so it had to be done before committing to the space portion of the flight. Since the feather system is critical to a safe re-entry, it ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
9 votes
Accepted

Will Richard Branson be setting any space firsts by beating Jeff Bezos' launch date?

Richard Branson will be there first person launched into space* on a rocket he owns/built**. *The 80km altitude he will reach is a contested definition of space. **The rocket is owned/built by the ...
Eric G's user avatar
  • 206
9 votes

What does it take for a craft to perform a flight simulating weightlessness without having to fly a steep parabola/ellipse?

It's not so much a matter of speed but one of altitude: where the atmospheric pressure is low enough that there's no air drag so one can longer be weightless without any air limitation. Basically the ...
BowlOfRed's user avatar
  • 6,882
9 votes

Could the SpaceShipOne fly again?

SpaceShipOne was retired so quickly because it was a prototype. One of the key lessons-learned over the last seventy-plus years was that the waterfall model does not work when applied to creating ...
David Hammen's user avatar
  • 74.8k
9 votes

Why does Blue Origin claim Virgin Galactic's spaceplane doesn’t have an escape system whereas Virgin Galactic's passengers are wearing parachutes?

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 ...
HiddenWindshield's user avatar
8 votes

Why is (conventional) ramjet not used for 2nd stage of rocket propulsion?

Thanks to many people answering and commenting, I think it could be summed up as follows: 1) For suborbital flight, height is important. Ramjets could be used for that. NASA even researched ramjet as ...
xmp125a's user avatar
  • 367
7 votes
Accepted

Why does Unity look transparent?

Much of the Unity spacecraft appears (almost) transparent in this image; you can see the blue sky right through it. This is absolute nonsense; you cannot see the sky through Unity's airframe. It is ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
6 votes
Accepted

Do the passengers in Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity spacecraft have a parachute or some other way to escape the spacecraft if needs be?

They do appear to be wearing parachutes, though they don't appear to have leg straps - could make it very uncomfortable in the unlikely event they have to be used. (They'd be left hanging from the ...
John Thomas's user avatar
6 votes

What kind of badge will tourists who performed a sub-orbital spaceflight receive?

We don't know yet. The closest we have come is Beth Moses who flew as a "test passenger" in VSS Unity VF-01 and became the first non-pilot and the first woman to be awarded the FAA ...
Jörg W Mittag's user avatar
6 votes

Why did Virgin Galactic decide to use a hybrid engine vs liquid on their space ship?

The book Burt Rutan's Race to Space by Dan Linehan describes why the predecessor of Spaceship Two chose a hybrid engine. Rutan ruled out solid motors because they cannot easily be shut off (a safety ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
6 votes
Accepted

What do these patterns on Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity represent, and how are they applied?

Icarus Wright Flyer Spirit of St. Louis Bell X-1 Boeing 747 Lunar Module Spaceship 1 Spaceship 2 Source - looking at them but confirmed here. The Bell X-1 image isn't very good IMHO. The linked ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
5 votes
Accepted

Why did Virgin Galactic switch back to HTPB after one launch using thermoplastic polyamide (i.e. nylon)?

Virgin Galactic (VG) is about as forthcoming with technical details/rationale as SpaceX, i.e., not very. The closest observer of VG I know of is the blog parabolicarc.com. They have covered the ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
5 votes

What does it take for a craft to perform a flight simulating weightlessness without having to fly a steep parabola/ellipse?

My question is: what speed / altitude / exterior air pressure are necessary in order to get weightless without having to fly a steep parabola? A speed of 2 m/s, an altitude of 1 m, and exterior air ...
Tanner Swett's user avatar
5 votes

Can Virgin Galactic's Orbital ship reach ISS

The answer is actually very simple, and is based on a misconception you seem to be having: Can Virgin Galactic's Orbital ship reach ISS SpaceShip2 is not an orbital vehicle. The ISS is in orbit, SS2 ...
Jörg W Mittag's user avatar
5 votes

Why did Unity 22 flight plan call for such a large horizontal velocity during its weightless phase? (1085 kph) Why not go straight up instead?

This ballistic "space" ship started as a plane and was landed as a plane too. To fly as a plane horizontal speed was necessary. When the hybrid rocket engine was ignited, the ship gained ...
Uwe's user avatar
  • 49k
5 votes

Is Delta the same as SpaceShip III and if not, has SpaceShip III been de facto cancelled?

To answer the first part of your question, SpaceShip III is not the same as Delta class. As for the second part of your question, it appears that SpaceShip III has been effectively cancelled, based on ...
Steve Pemberton's user avatar
4 votes
Accepted

When is the SpaceShipTwo dropped from mothership?

WhiteKnightTwo uneventfully carried SpaceShipTwo to a release altitude of approximately 47,000 feet MSL. NTSB Accident Report - Virgin Galactic Party Submission The flight in the report lifted off at ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
4 votes

How long do the ascent and the descent of Virgin Galactic's spacecraft take?

This paper Biomedical monitoring of spaceflight participants during suborbital flights via agile architecture gives the following figure, showing four minutes of free fall. The paper states that the ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
4 votes
Accepted

During their climb, when did/do the SpaceShipOne and Two pilots lose all or most of aerodynamic control over the spaceplane?

The Virgin Galactic "Party Submission" to the NTSB report on the Spaceship 2 accident sheds some light on this. This picture shows the cockpit procedural cue card for the accident flight. (...
Organic Marble's user avatar
4 votes
Accepted

What does it take for a craft to perform a flight simulating weightlessness without having to fly a steep parabola/ellipse?

How fast does a craft have to fly relative to the Earth's surface in order to be weightless within? About 15,000 knots. Astronauts in the ISS feel weightless with respect to their craft because they ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
4 votes
Accepted

Does the US government plan to issue "Astronaut Wings" for anyone passing 80 km forever?

Does the US government plan to issue “Astronaut Wings” for anyone passing 80 km forever? No. From https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2021/07/22/us/faa-changes-astronaut-wings-scn/index.html (mirror): FAA ...
Franck Dernoncourt's user avatar
4 votes

Can the Virgin Galactic's feathered rentry system be used for first stage recovery?

Not needed. The SpaceX Falcon 9 steering fins put drag above center of gravity, guaranteeing a stable descent. The Virgin Galactic "feathering" system, advertised as a badminton "...
Robert DiGiovanni's user avatar
3 votes
Accepted

Payloads and orbits Virgin Galactic's Launcher 1 can provide, comparison to Electron?

According to Virgin Orbit's Service Guide: Up to 300 kg / 661 lbm to 500 km / 270 nmi Sun-Synchronous Orbit (SSO) Up to 500 kg / 1100 lbm to 230 km / 124 nmi circular 0 degree inclination Low ...
Jack's user avatar
  • 9,976

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