Videos: More views of the 2nd Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo spaceflight

More imagery from Friday’s flight of the SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity (see previous postings here and here):

** Beth Moses enjoys the view from space:

“The face you make when you look back on Earth from space. Our Chief Astronaut Instructor, Beth Moses, is the 571st person to fly to space and the first woman to fly on board a commercial spaceship.” – Virgin Galactic

** Flight highlights:

** Post-flight interviews with Moses, Chief Pilot Dave Mackay, Co-Pilot Michael “Sooch” Masucci, and Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides:

** Feather reentry mode as seen from a camera on one of the booms:


The Cosma Hypothesis: Implications of the Overview Effect

Space arts roundup – Feb.23.2019

Some recent items involving art and dance inspired by space:

** The Artists Inspire Astronauts contest is sponsored by NASA:

The goal of this challenge is to create an inspiring environment for astronauts before they head out on space missions. NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is seeking submissions for original artwork to be displayed on a wall within the Astronaut Crew Quarters. The area is one of the last places astronauts will spend time before heading for the launch pad. Artwork on display may be visible during NASA video coverage of crew departure

Entry info:

The Challenge begins: February 15, 2019 
Submission Period: February 15 – April 30, 2019 (300 dpi image, 12” x 18”)
Judging Period: May 1 – June 1, 2019
Winners Notified No Later Than: June 7, 2019 
Winners Final Submission Due: June 28, 2019 (110 dpi image, 4’ x 6’ via CD/DVD)
Winners Announced: Summer 2019

In addition to seeing the work hung in the Astronaut Crew Quarters, the winner will also receive an

Invitation for artist and up to 3 guests to attend a Commercial Crew launch at Kennedy Space Center (NASA not responsible for travel arrangements)

More at ‘Artists Inspire Astronauts’ Contest | Colorado Space News.

** New documentary profiles Chesley Bonestell, who created many iconic depictions of space and space travel that were particularly influential in the years leading up to the start of the Space Age. The new documentary film, Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future, tells the story of his life and the impact that his work had on space artists, space pioneers, and the general public’s perception of space travel.

Poster for the film, “Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future”.

Here is a trailer for the film, which is currently being shown at film festivals and selected theaters:

More about Bonestell (1888-1986) and the film at Visionary ‘space art’ pioneer Chesley Bonestell celebrated in documentary | Datebook/SF Chronicle.

“Saturn As Seen From Titan” by Chesley Bonestell

** A ballet inspired by the New Horizons mission to Pluto and beyond is being performed by the Boulder Ballet in Colorado.

On February 22, 23, & 24, 2019 Boulder Ballet is celebrating the landmark achievements of the New Horizons space mission with four special performances of New Horizons. These performances, featuring Boulder Ballet company dancers, honor NASA’s New Horizons Pluto-Kuiper Belt Mission. We’ve taken the beauty and mystery of space, the courage of exploration, the fragility and strength of humanity and mixed it with a dynamic score by a local award-winning composer and exciting choreography by a Boulder dancer/choreographer, creating a ballet that will take the audience on a journey of time and space. The music has been composed by award-winning composer Paul Fowler, music professor at Naropa University and the choreography is by Claire Davison, a Boulder Ballet alum now dancing with American Ballet Theatre.

These performances will also feature a piece choreographed by Associate Artistic Director Lance Hardin and Assistant School Director Amy Earnest to electronic music composed by Michael Schulze, a teaching associate professor at the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music. A third piece will be the audience favorite “Tropes” from the FACES of Boulder Ballet show presented in September, choreographed by company member Ryland Early.

The opening night post-performance celebration will be a unique opportunity to meet some of the local scientists who brought the New Horizons mission to life along with the artists who, through this performance, recognize this unparalleled accomplishment. We are excited and truly privileged to be bringing this unique combination of science and art—a perfect example of STEAM—to the Boulder community.

More at


Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto

Space transport roundup – Feb.22.2019

Another sampling of items related to traveling to and through space:

** SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo Mission passes review – NASA and SpaceX held a flight readiness review (FRR) today to determine if the Falcon 9/Crew Dragon combo is ready for the first test flight to the ISS. The uncrewed Demo-1 mission is set for March 2nd. The FRR concluded with approval of the mission. Demo-1 Flight Readiness Concludes – Commercial Crew Program

Following a full day of briefings and discussion, NASA and SpaceX are proceeding with plans to conduct the first uncrewed test flight of the Crew Dragon on a mission to the International Space Station. Launch is scheduled for 2:48 a.m. EST Saturday, March 2 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It will be the first time a commercially built and operated American rocket and spacecraft designed for humans will launch to the space station.

At 6 p.m., NASA will broadcast a post-flight readiness review briefing from Kennedy, with the following representatives:

    • William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator, NASA Human Exploration and Operations
    • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Hans Koenigsmann, vice president, Build and Flight Reliability, SpaceX
    • Kirk Shireman, manager, International Space Station Program
    • Norm Knight, deputy director, NASA  Johnson Space Center Flight Operations

[ Update: Here is a video of the FRR briefing:


More at

Assuming this uncrewed mission goes well, there will be one more uncrewed demonstration mission before a crew flies. That demo will test the in-flight abort system with the Crew Dragon vehicle separating from the rocket at the point, a minute or so after liftoff, when the vehicle experiences maximum dynamic pressure, i.e. maximum stress from the combination of the opposing forces of the engines and atmospheric drag. The flight will use the same booster that flew on yesterday’s launch of the Indonesian comm-sat and SpaceIL lunar lander.

** SpaceX Falcon 9 launches comm-sat plus two secondaries including an Israeli spacecraft going to the Moon.  On Thursday evening at Cape Canaveral, SpaceX’s second F9 launch of the year put the Indonesian Nusantara Satu communications satellite on track to a geostationary orbit. The two secondary payloads included the S5 USAF technology demo satellite and SpaceIL‘s lunar lander spacecraft, which is named Beresheet (Hebrew for “genesis” or “in the beginning”). The F9 booster, which was on its third mission, landed safely on a floating platform in rough seas after coming back from the highest altitude so far for a recovered booster.

The SpaceIL non-profit, volunteer project began as an entry in the Google Lunar X PRIZE  but continued after the GLXP ended. It will be the first privately funded mission to the Moon. If successful, Israel will be only the fourth country (after US, Soviet Union, and China) to put a lander onto the Moon.

**** The Beresheet journey to the Moon will take seven weeks. As shown in this video, the Beresheet craft will use its onboard propulsion system to bring the apogee of its earth orbit closer and closer to the Moon’s orbit.

Once it is close enough, the engine will fire to allow for the Moon’s gravity to capture it. This is scheduled to happen on April 4th. A week later the craft will make its landing attempt. Here is the time table:

A graphic timeline of the major events in the Beresheet mission.

I’ll be following the mission here and you can find updates from the project at Israel To The Moon (@TeamSpaceIL) | Twitter.

** Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo makes second powered flight in 10 weeks to edge of space. See postings here on the flight:

** Soyuz 2-1B launches EgyptSat-A earth observation satellite successfully from the Baikonur Cosmodrome despite a problem with the third stage booster:

See also

** Firefly Aerospace announced on Friday that it will open a rocket factory at Cape Canaveral and launch the vehicles at a nearby pad:

At an event at Cape Canaveral on Feb. 22, Florida officials and Firefly Aerospace CEO Tom Markusic announce plans for the company to open a rocket factory at the Cape and to launch the vehicles there.

From the Verge article:

Texas-based spaceflight company Firefly Aerospace is moving into a new launch site in Cape Canaveral, Florida — the location of US’s premier spaceport. Thanks to a deal with Space Florida, a government agency that spurs development in the state, Firefly will be taking over a pad called SLC-20 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as well as building a nearby manufacturing facility. That means the launch provider now has secured two launchpads for the rockets it has been developing: one in Florida and another at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

** Black Arrow Technologies in the UK plans to use a sea-going launch platform for its smallsat rocket system:

Black Arrow Space Technologies is developing its own spaceship – a seaborne spaceport which will be used to launch satellites of up to, initially, 500 kg in to Low Earth Orbit. The “spaceship” will be based in a South Wales port, along with its support vessels, and will enable rockets to be launched North or South without overflying populated areas. We are creating a flexible British launch capability to support the thriving British satellite industry which will allow launches to take place from the best place to achieve the required orbit. This CGI animation, created for us by Animated Technologies, gives a great impression of what we are aiming to achieve.

The company’s rocket is powered with liquid natural gas and can put up to 500 kg into Low Earth Orbit.

** LAUNCHER claims it’s 3D printed rocket engine is bigger than the other guys’ 3D printed rocket engines:  Rocket start-up Launcher gets largest single piece 3D printed engine – CNBC

The simply-named company, Launcher, provided CNBC with a first look at the company’s E-2 engine, which was made in Germany by AMCM using its specialized M4K printer. Launcher has only five full-time employees but credits its ability to develop E-2 quickly to the advances made in 3D printing.

“With 3D printing, we’re now in a world where a start-up like us can now access [advanced] liquid oxygen propulsion technologies,” Launcher founder Max Haot told CNBC.

** More SpaceX:

**** A profile of Maria Pointer who lives in Boca Chica Beach and posts photos and videos of SpaceX activities taken from her backyard:

**** Here are new videos of SpaceX at Boca Chica courtesy of South Padre Island Information:


**** Elon Musk commented on Tweeter that the first full-scale Raptor engine underwent increasingly strenuous test firings until it reached the point where it failed as expected. A second engine will begin testing soon.


The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos

Virgin Galactic sets new milestones on second flight to edge of space in 10 weeks

Here is a press release from Virgin Galactic about today’s SpaceShipTwo flight to space:

Virgin Galactic Makes Space for Second Time in Ten Weeks
with Three On Board,
Reaching Higher Altitudes and Faster Speeds,
as Flight Test Program Continues

Flight Follows December’s Fourth Rocket-Powered Flight and First Space Flight

Mojave, California, USA (22 Feb 2019): Today, Virgin Galactic conducted its fifth powered test flight and second space flight of its commercial SpaceShipTwo, VSS Unity. Please find reporting materials below for news coverage and multimedia reporting.

[ Update: Will add new media here as it becomes available.


B-roll & Images: Getty Press FTP:    Please visit periodically throughout the day and week for updates and additional test flight content.

News of the day and Richard Branson reaction quotes, per full copy below. Available for immediate use. Please cite original source: Virgin Galactic.

In its fifth supersonic rocket powered test flight, Virgin Galactic reached space for the second time today in the skies above Mojave CA. Spaceship VSS Unity reached its highest speed and altitude to date and, for the first time, carried a third crew member on board along with research payloads from the NASA Flight Opportunities program.

Virgin Galactic Makes Space for Second Time in Ten Weeks with Three On Board

This space flight means Chief Pilot Dave Mackay and co-pilot Michael “Sooch” Masucci become commercial astronauts and the 569th and 570th humans in space. Beth Moses, Virgin Galactic’s Chief Astronaut Instructor, flew as the third crew member in a first, live evaluation of cabin dynamics. She is the 571st person to fly to space and the first woman to fly on board a commercial spaceship.

In addition to this element of envelope expansion, VSS Unity flew higher and faster than ever before, as its world record-holding hybrid rocket motor propelled the spaceship at Mach 3.04 to an apogee of 295,007ft.

Beth Moses unbuckles and floats inside SS2.

The crew enjoyed extraordinary views of Earth from the black skies of space and, during several minutes of weightlessness while the pilots “feathered” the spaceship in preparation for a Mach 2.7 re-entry, Beth floated free to complete a number of cabin evaluation test points. The human validation of data previously collected via sensors, and the live testing of other physical elements of the cabin interior, are fundamental to the provision of a safe but enjoyable customer experience.

The glide back home was followed by a smooth runway landing and a rapturous reception from the crowd on the flight line, which included staff and some of Virgin Galactic’s 600 Future Astronaut customers.

Chief Pilot Dave Mackay, a born and bred Scotsman as well as an ex-RAF test pilot and Virgin Atlantic Captain, led his crew of newly qualified astronauts from VSS Unity accompanied by a kilted piper.

Post flight celebration.

Today’s flight notched several additional firsts for the industry:  The flight was the first time that a non-pilot flew on board a commercial spaceship to space, and it was the first time that a crew member floated freely without restraints in weightlessness in space onboard a commercial spaceship;  it was the first time that three people flew to space on a commercial spaceship, and Dave Mackay became the first Scottish-born astronaut (Brian Binnie, who was raised in Scotland, flew to space in 2004).

Addressing colleagues and guests Dave said:

“Beth, Sooch and I just enjoyed a pretty amazing flight which was beyond anything any of us has ever experienced. It was thrilling yet smooth and nicely controlled throughout with a view at the top, of the Earth from space, which exceeded all our expectations. I am incredibly proud of my crew and of the amazing teams at Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company for providing a vehicle and an operation which means we can fly confidently and safely. For the three of us today this was the fulfillment of lifelong ambitions, but paradoxically is also just the beginning of an adventure which we can’t wait to share with thousands of others.”  

Sir Richard Branson said:

“Flying the same vehicle safely to space and back twice in a little over two months, while at the same time expanding the flight envelope, is testament to the unique capability we have built up within the Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company organizations. I am immensely proud of everyone involved. Having Beth fly in the cabin today, starting to ensure that our customer journey is as flawless as the spaceship itself, brings a huge sense of anticipation and excitement to all of us here who are looking forward to experiencing space for ourselves. The next few months promise to be the most thrilling yet”

For downloadable assets from today’s flight test please visit our Press FTP


The Cosma Hypothesis: Implications of the Overview Effect

Video: “Space to Ground” ISS report – Feb.22.2019

Here is the latest episode of NASA’s weekly Space to Ground report on activities related to the International Space Station:

** A recent interview with ISS crew member Anne McClain:

Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 58 Flight Engineer Anne McClain of NASA discussed life and research on the outpost and her thoughts on the Apollo program fifty years after humankind’s first landing on the moon during a pair of in-flight interviews Feb. 15 with CNN and National Public Radio’s “Weekend Edition”. McClain is in the third month of a planned six-and-a-half month mission on the complex.


Brief Answers to the Big Questions – Stephen Hawking