53

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 as the astronauts on the ISS. At the height of the ISS, the earth's gravity is about 90% of what it is at sea level. You could launch a rocket straight up and ...


41

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 ...


33

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 are falling at the same rate.


23

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 means the booster is in thinner atmosphere and can use a more optimized outlet for lower air pressure. All these things contribute to making a lighter/cheaper ...


19

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 200 km where the satellite is put into the orbit. You would need three stages, the first with a rocket engine to get a speed where a ramjet may be used, the ...


16

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 falling gets faster by 9.8 m/s for every second that it falls. For example, a ball that falls from a tower (disregarding air resistance) and takes three seconds to ...


15

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 requirements2 (which was certainly good enough) and was designed specifically and solely to win the prize. The tiny crew compartment meant that there was zero ...


10

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 was designed to be both simple and mechanically redundant. It was essential that the feather locks remain locked during the transonic boost phase of flight ...


9

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 something that is substantially new. Another of the key lessons-learned in the same timeframe was that prototyping is a very good way of what I call "debugging ...


9

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 altitude where there's a low enough air drag so your parabola can be of any size and where you don't necessarily have to immediately fall onto the Earth. This ...


9

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 Virgin Galactic, but he is founder and largest shareholder. This is probably the least contrived record to be set.


9

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 ...


8

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 a propulsion option. 2) BUT, if your goal is to reach orbit, the height does not matter that much. You can lift your space vehicle to an altitude, and it will ...


6

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 article says the image is "stenciled on" but I am not sure how definite that is.


6

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 Commercial Astronaut Wings. However, the FAA only awards Commercial Astronaut Wings to flight crew who promote the safety of commercial space launch vehicles., and ...


5

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 shoulder straps.) Maybe part of the system is not visible in the footage. Branson himself described undergoing 5 days of training before his flight. More than ...


5

According to a Virgin Galactic spokesman, the NTSB has determined the pilot unlocked the feathering mechanism too early. The aircraft's speed was too low to keep the feather in place, so it deployed, causing so much drag that structural failure ensued. As of 2015-01-10, Scaled Composites has built most of the second airframe. They are proceeding with the ...


5

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 engine switcheroo extensively over the years, but it's largely based on rumors. Here's a decent summary from an August 2015 post: When they switched to the ...


5

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 concern). He ruled out liquid motors because of cost and complexity. Rutan settled on a hybrid engine as the best compromise between safety and cost. Also ...


5

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 pressure of approximately 1 atmosphere will do the trick just fine. How do you do that? Go find a creek, take a running start, and jump over it. This will cause ...


5

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 cannot go to orbit, therefore, SS2 cannot go to the ISS. In fact, you answer the question yourself: I have had read that the SpaceShip2 will have merely 6 ...


5

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 opaque. The upper surface of Unity is indeed painted mainly white. The underside appears to be painted in a dark blue and black iris-and-pupil design, providing ...


5

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 vertical speed. Conservation of energy is valid for such ships too, therefore the horizontal component of speed was not changed. To avoid any waste of rocket fuel ...


4

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. (Emphasis mine) It shows the reaction control system (RCS) being enabled at 135,000 feet on the upward leg of the flight and disabled around 60,000 feet (...


4

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 are "flying" at the orbital velocity for their altitude, which as everyone knows is "exactly 17500 MPH". STS110-353-012 (8-19 April 2002) --- Astronaut ...


4

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 09:19:30 PDT and released SpaceShipTwo at 10:07:19.27 PDT.


4

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 powered flight portion lasts 70 seconds. The paper goes on to say the glide phase will begin with a return to an unpowered horizontal runway landing that will ...


4

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 changes policy on who qualifies for commercial astronaut wings on same day as Blue Origin spaceflight. [...] Effective July 20, [2021], the FAA issued one more ...


3

https://bis-space.com/membership/voyage/VoyageIssue8-Virgin%20Galactic.pdf confirms that: The Virgin Galactic spaceship is designed to fly almost anyone to space without the need for long term training. Passengers will have three days of extensive pre-flight training. This may include flight simulation or centrifuge training to prepare for the g-forces. On ...


3

At least in May of this year, they had not given up. The article Virgin Galactic is partnering with NASA to develop supersonic point-to-point air travel states that they have signed a Space Act agreement with NASA on this topic. There is a press release on the Virgin Galactic webpage, but it is largely content-free. I did not see it on the NASA web site ...


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