Category Archives: Spaceflight & Parabolic Flight

Videos: New Shepard flight history + “Moon, the Eighth Continent” + “Coin Operated”

Today Blue Origin posted this video compilation of highlights of the test flights of the New Shepard:

From the caption:

The more we fly the better we get. Safety and reliability are paramount. Our rigorous test program with New Shepard is putting the vehicle through the paces. We have successfully completed several crew capsule escape tests showing that our astronauts will be safe in any phase of flight. In addition to our test program, our payloads program is driving more flights of the system as we iterate on operations and technology in preparation for human spaceflight. All the learnings from the New Shepard program are being flowed into New Glenn development as we scale up our capabilities to serve the orbital market. Visit us at www.blueorigin.com to learn more.

Another flight is expected to happen very soon.

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Moon, the Eighth Continent – A documentary about government and private efforts around the world to revitalize exploration of the Moon and to establish human bases and settlements there. (In French with English subtitles):

Major space agencies, and a few billionaires, are now launching a new space race to the moon. It’s the first step before heading to Mars.

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An entertaining story of one guy’s lifelong pursuit of a ride to the Moon: Coin Operated on Vimeo

Written & Directed by Nicholas Arioli

Coin Operated is an award winning 5 minute short animation that spans 70 years in the life of one naive explorer. This film was proudly made by independent artists.

Facebook – facebook.com/CoinOperatedFilm

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Einstein’s Monsters: The Life and Times of Black Holes

On its 50th anniversary, Apollo 8 gets the appreciation it deserves

The Apollo 8 mission launched on Dec. 21, 1968 with astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell Jr. and William Anders on board. About two and half hours after liftoff, the S-IV third stage fired for a second time and put their spacecraft on a trajectory to the Moon. The crew members became the first humans to fly beyond low earth orbit.

The S-IV soon separated from the Apollo command service module and the spacecraft reached the Moon on Dec. 24th, going into orbit after the firing of the service module engine while on the far side. The crew orbited the Moon for 10 hours and would have been stuck there forever if the engine had not re-fired as planned. It did fire and the crew made it back to earth for a safe splashdown in the Pacific on Dec. 27th. The extremely risky mission was a tremendous success and its accomplishments made it possible for the US to achieve the goal set by John F. Kennedy of putting a man on the Moon by the end of the 1960s.

I recently wrote about the audiobook version of Bob Zimmerman’s 1998 book, Genesis: The Story of Apollo 8: The First Manned Mission to Another World.  Today Bob reflects on the mission, his book, and the growing appreciation of the significance of the Apollo 8 mission, which had nearly been lost in the glow of Apollo 11: Apollo 8: Fifty years ago | Behind The Black.

What I find gratifying is that it appears my goal in writing the book in 1998 has been an unparalleled success. Today alone there have been three major stories celebrating Apollo 8 and its legacy, from the Washington Post, Scientific American, and New Atlas. In the past week there have another half dozen. I expect dozens more in the coming week. All so far have gotten their facts right, and have been able to tell the story correctly of this nerve-racking mission given 50-50 odds of success. More important, all have understood thoroughly the political and historical context of the mission, and the long term impact that it had.

Fifty years ago on Dec. 21, 1968, Apollo 8 launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, Kennedy Space Center at 7:51 a.m. EST). NASA Image of the Day.

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New Virgin Galactic video about SpaceShipTwo spaceflight

In this video, Richard Branson tells his children about his own father and relates his father’s advice on living a good life to the recent SpaceShipTwo flight to the edge of space. The video includes some new footage of the flight: To my grandchildren | Virgin

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Videos: DIY rocketeer profile, Retrieving a big wet rocket, Blue Origin’s giant lifter, & More about Virgin Galactic’s SS2

Some miscellaneous rocket/space related videos:

** The DIY Rocketeer Building SpaceX Replicas of Self-Landing Rockets: A Motherboard profile of Joe Barnard, who is about developing model rockets with vectored thrust and landing capabilities (see posts here and here):

Joe Barnard left his background in videography and music production to launch his life of amateur rocketry, and he shares his DIY adventures in building rockets on his YouTube channel BPS.space.

** SpaceX CRS-16 booster recovery: Reports from www.USLaunchReport.com on what has been happening with that SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage that landed in the water during the launch of a Dragon cargo ship to the ISS:

**** SpaceX CRS-16 Booster Towed To Port 12-07-2018

**** SpaceX – Rise Of The Machines

** What went wrong: Tim Dodd, the Everyday Astronaut, explains what caused the booster to land offshore:

** Blue Origin’s New Glenn: And here Dodd profiles Jeff Bezos’s giant rocket:

** Commercial astronauts visit space: Scott Manley describes the significance of the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo flight this week:

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Virgin Galactic: Richard Branson hails first SpaceShipTwo spaceflight

A release from Virgin Galactic about today’s SpaceShipTwo spaceflight:

[ Update: A new video from the flight:

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Richard Branson Welcomes Astronauts Home from Virgin Galactic’s Historic First Spaceflight

Virgin Galactic’s First Spaceflight on December 13th 2018

History has been made and a long-anticipated dream realised in Mojave, CA, today as Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, VSS Unity, landed from her maiden spaceflight to cheers from Richard Branson and the teams from Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company.

Not only is this the first human spaceflight to be launched from American soil since the final Space Shuttle mission in 2011, but the very first time that a crewed vehicle built for commercial, passenger service, has reached space.

The historic achievement has been recognised by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) who announced today that early next year they will present pilots Mark “Forger” Stucky and Frederick “CJ” Sturckow with FAA Commercial Astronaut Wings at a ceremony in Washington DC.  CJ, as a four-time Space Shuttle pilot, will become the only person to have been awarded NASA and FAA wings.

Today’s accomplishment has also been recognised by the NASA Flight Opportunities Program, which flew four space science and technology experiments on VSS Unity, making this Virgin Galactic’s first revenue generating flight.

Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic’s first two astronauts.

The spectacular spaceflight, which was witnessed by a large crowd of staff and their families, as well as special guests and media, saw a 60 second planned rocket motor burn which propelled VSS Unity to almost three times the speed of sound and to an apogee of 51.4 miles.

As VSS Unity coasted upwards through the black sky and into space, Virgin Galactic Mission Control confirmed the news and congratulated the two astronaut pilots: “ Unity, Welcome to Space”.

Virgin Galactic’s First Spaceflight on December 13th 2018

After a Mach 2.5 supersonic re-entry into the atmosphere, which utilised Unity’s unique “feathering” configuration, Forger and CJ guided the spaceship down to a smooth runway landing and an emotional homecoming welcome.

Commenting from the flight line Richard Branson said:

“Many of you will know how important the dream of space travel is to me personally. Ever since I watched the moon landings as a child I have looked up to the skies with wonder. We started Virgin nearly 50 years ago dreaming big and loving a challenge. Today, as I stood among a truly remarkable group of people with our eyes on the stars, we saw our biggest dream and our toughest challenge to date fulfilled. It was an indescribable feeling: joy, relief, exhilaration and anticipation for what is yet to come.

“Today, for the first time in history, a crewed spaceship, built to carry private passengers, reached space. Today we completed our first revenue generating flight and our pilots earned their Commercial Astronaut Wings. Today, we have shown that Virgin Galactic really can open space to change the world for good. We will now push on with the remaining portion of our flight test program, which will see the rocket motor burn for longer and VSS Unity fly still faster and higher towards giving thousands of private astronauts an experience which provides a new, planetary perspective to our relationship with the Earth and the cosmos. This is a momentous day and I could not be more proud of our teams who together have opened a new chapter of space exploration.”

George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company, said:

“What we witnessed today is more compelling evidence that commercial space is set to become one of the twenty-first century’s defining industries. Reusable vehicles built and operated by private companies are about to transform our business and personal lives in ways which are as yet hard to imagine. New enterprises are being created which will become hugely valuable, while enabling humanity to better manage some of its greatest future challenges. Today was a remarkable achievement brought about by the skill, dedication and support of our shareholders, staff, customers, partners and many other stakeholders. We extend our congratulations and thanks to each and every one of them.”

For downloadable assets from today’s flight test please visit our Press FTP https://www.image.net/virgingalactic

Virgin Galactic’s First Spaceflight on December 13th 2018

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