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  [Discuss] Virgin's SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity (Page 2)

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Author Topic:   [Discuss] Virgin's SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity
David C
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posted 04-06-2018 02:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for David C     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by oly:
As this flight topped out at 84,271ft, I would expect that full control authority would be required at this altitude.
It's a public transport category vehicle so it must be in control at all times. Yes it has an RCS, and feathered descent is in a basically stable attitude (just like a shuttlecock if dropped in its stable orientation rather than being hit).

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-29-2018 08:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Virgin Galactic on Twitter:
Our team is prepping for a SpaceShipTwo flight test today.

Today's flight is planned to be a partial duration rocket burn that will test a rearward center of gravity closer to the commercial configuration.

We have take-off. VMS Eve and VSS Unity have taken to the skies and have begun their climb.

Today is 13th flight for VSS Unity SpaceShipTwo, 249th for VMS Eve.

From The Spaceship Company on Twitter:
VSS Unity is flying on her own after a clean separation from VMS Eve.

Our hybrid rocket motor is ignited for today's planned partial burn and VSS Unity is now on an upward climb.

Pilots have shut down the rocket motor and are on an upward coast to apogee. The pilots will shortly raise the tail-booms of SpaceShipTwo for "feathered" re-entry.

Pilots have de-feathered VSS Unity and are gliding back to Mojave Airport.

SpaceShipTwo has touched down! Congratulations to Dave Mackay and Mark "Forger" Stucky.

Today's flight test is now complete as our pilots CJ Sturckow, Nicola Pecile, and flight test engineer Colin Bennet have landed WhiteKnightTwo back.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-26-2018 08:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Virgin Galactic on Twitter:
Our team has prepped SpaceShipTwo for her flight test today [July 26] and the vehicles are now heading to the runway.

Every time VSS Unity is tested we gain invaluable experience and fresh data. Today among other things we plan to gather more data on supersonic flight, aerodynamics, as well as thermal dynamics.

As on all test flights, Unity's cabin is equipped to gather vital data. Cabin analysis systems help us understand the environment inside during powered flight, including: temperatures, pressures, humidity, acoustics, thermal response, vibration, acceleration and radiation.

Today's test flight is slated to be the third rocket-powered flight of VSS Unity in less than four months.

There she goes! VMS Eve and VSS Unity have taken to the skies.

Today is the 14th flight for VSS Unity SpaceShipTwo, 252nd for VMS Eve.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-26-2018 11:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Virgin Galactic on Twitter:
VSS Unity is flying free, having separated cleanly from VMS Eve.

VSS Unity's rocket motor has been ignited for today's planned partial duration burn. Pointing upwards and accelerating fast.

Pilots have shut down rocket motor and tail-booms are about to be raised into the SpaceShipTwo "feathered" re-entry position.

With the feathers lowered, VSS Unity is turning back to Mojave Airport for the glide home.

Touch down. Another successful test flight for VSS Unity. Congratulations to our pilots Dave Mackay and Mike "Sooch" Masucci.

Today VSS Unity completed her third powered test flight.

Updated key stats from today's test flight:

  • Release altitude: 46,500 ft
  • Burn time: 42 seconds
  • Boost Mach: 2.47
  • Apogee: 170,800 ft, 32.3 miles, 52 km
  • Re-entry Mach: 1.7

SpaceAholic
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posted 07-26-2018 06:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
VSS Unity's motif on its structure depicting evolution from the lunar module is a bit of a cringe-worthy embellishment. Latter is a real spacecraft, the former an aircraft with only sufficient impulse to momentarily leap out of the atmosphere and no exo-atmospheric flight control.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-26-2018 07:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The "DNA of Flight," as the graphic is called, is not based on engineering or aviation achievement, but rather humanity's relationship with the dream of flight.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-27-2018 08:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Virgin Galactic video release
Virgin Galactic conducted a supersonic test flight today [July 26] of VSS Unity, a rocket-powered piloted Spaceship that will carry commercial passengers and scientific payloads to space.

Following an initial and a subsequent supersonic test flight earlier this year, this marks the third powered flight and a key step forward in Virgin Galactic's test program.

SpaceAholic
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posted 07-27-2018 11:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
FAA Registry entry for VSS Unity. Definitely an aircraft (glider) despite Virgin's persistence in marketing it as a "spaceship."

denali414
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posted 07-27-2018 11:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for denali414   Click Here to Email denali414     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Cool video, but not sure I understand how it's going to carry payloads to space? Are they now saying the rocket can re-burn and can not only dock with the ISS (or another orbiting station), but can refire and return to earth after a docking? I always thought it was more a one way burn for rich passengers to "experience" space and glide back to Earth.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 07-27-2018 01:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
SpaceShipTwo is a suborbital passenger and payload vehicle (the latter, primarily science experiments, will remain inside the vehicle; they will not be deployed into space). It has no capacity, nor was it designed to fly into orbit or service any space station.
quote:
Originally posted by SpaceAholic:
Definitely an aircraft
Yes, SpaceShipTwo has an aircraft registry — it functions as an aircraft (glider) when inside the atmosphere. But the FAA also refers to it as a "reusable suborbital rocket" in its environmental assessment for using the Mojave Air and Space Port, and includes SpaceShipTwo in its commercial space launch data.

denali414
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posted 07-27-2018 01:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for denali414   Click Here to Email denali414     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Robert! That makes much more sense.

328KF
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posted 08-13-2018 07:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
An incredibly well-written account of the SpaceShipTwo/Virgin Galactic program, featuring pilot Mark "Forger" Stuckey. The writer spent four years "embedded" with the program to produce this. Quite lengthy, so set aside some time and enjoy...

Blackarrow
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posted 08-14-2018 07:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
But the FAA also refers to it as a "reusable suborbital rocket"...
Let's see: SpaceShipTwo has a rocket-engine, but cannot launch itself. It has to be carried to a high altitude underneath a large aircraft. It is then released, fires its engine and is thrust out of (almost all of) the atmosphere. It then returns, unpowered, and glides to a horizontal landing. In principle, that is a description of an X-15 flight, and NASA describes the X-15 as a rocket-powered hypersonic research aircraft (which made 199 "flights.")

The X-15 was regularly referred to colloquially as a "rocket-plane" and I suggest it would be better for the FAA to refer to SS2 as a "reusable suborbital rocket-plane" to distinguish a vehicle which has a rocket-engine but can fly (glide) through the atmosphere from a non-reusable ballistic "rocket" such as a Mercury/Redstone suborbital rocket.

As for the name "SpaceShipTwo," it is arguably a bit grandiose, but bear in mind the literal translation of astronaut is "star-sailor" so I think we can cut Branson a bit of slack!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 08-14-2018 09:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The space shuttle orbiter had rocket engines but could not launch itself, was released at altitude, fired its (OMS) engines to put itself into orbit and then returned to Earth as a glider.

Rockwell, the orbiter's manufacturer, referred to the winged vehicle in its advertising as a "spaceship."

Blackarrow
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posted 08-14-2018 06:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The space shuttle orbiter was self-evidently a "spaceship" because it was launched into space and orbited the Earth. And yes, it also became the world's largest glider when returning through the atmosphere (unless you count widebodied airliners that have run out of fuel or have flown through volcanic ash!). But it should certainly be described as a spaceship.

I couldn't improve on the point you made earlier that SpaceShipTwo has no capacity, nor was it designed, to go into orbit, hence my comparison with the X-15 flight profile and my suggestion that SS2 might reasonably be referred to as a suborbital rocket-plane.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-12-2018 03:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Virgin Galactic on Twitter:
The window for our 4th powered test flight opens on Thursday [Dec. 13, 2018]. We plan to burn the rocket motor for longer than we have in flight before, but not to its full duration. Some background on this next phase of our test flight program can be found here.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-13-2018 08:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Virgin Galactic on Twitter:
We're moving into the next phase of our test flight progam today and are aiming to achieve a longer burn duration of our rocket motor resulting in us going higher than we have before.

SpaceShipTwo will be carrying NASA payloads today which puts the spaceship at close to approximate commercial weight. This flight is our first mission for NASA. The payloads will collect valuable data needed to mature the technologies for use on future NASA missions.

Our highly experienced test pilots making their way to SpaceShipTwo. Meet the Test Pilots who'll be flying SpaceShipTwo today. First up is Pilot In Command, Mark 'Forger' Stucky. Next is test pilot C.J Sturckow. Prior to joining Virgin Galactic he served as a NASA astronaut, and flew to the International Space Station four times.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-13-2018 09:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Virgin Galactic on Twitter:
Engines have started on our mothership WhiteKnightTwo and we're preparing for take-off.

Take off! WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo have taken to the skies as our team watch on below. Today is flight number 261 for WhiteKnightTwo and number 15 for SpaceShipTwo Unity.

WhiteKnightTwo is taking SpaceShipTwo to release altitude at which point SpaceShipTwo will be released and the rocket motor ignited. WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo now at 30,000 feet and conducting routine cabin checks.

Cabin checks complete. Results are good.

WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo now at 42,000 feet. We are approximately 30 minutes from the release of SpaceShipTwo.

WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo are at 43,000 feet. We have completed Mission Control critical comms checks and continue to rise.

Release, release, release! SpaceShipTwo is flying free, having separated cleanly from its mothership WhiteKnightTwo.

SpaceShipTwo's rocket motor has been ignited by our pilots Mark "Forger" Stucky and C.J Sturckow.

Rocket motor has been shut down. SpaceShipTwo continues to travel upwards.

SpaceShipTwo enters coast phase. Tail-booms raised into "feathered" re-entry position.

SpaceShipTwo, welcome to space.

SpaceShipTwo begins descent.

SpaceShipTwo feather is down and locked.

Landing gear down and locked.

Wheel stop, SpaceShipTwo. Welcome back to Earth.

SpaceShipTwo reached: 51.4 meters, 271,268 feet, 82.7 kilometers. SpaceShipTwo's rocket motor burnt for 60 seconds. We travelled at 2.9 Mach on the way up to today. That's 2.9 times the speed of sound.

SpaceShipTwo returns from space.

328KF
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posted 12-14-2018 04:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mark "Forger" Stucky made good on a bet (apparently for a margarita) with former astronaut Jack Fischer, as he posted on Twitter:
Oh ye of little faith, I honor my bets!

Fischer responded with:

Holy cow!!! That's the coolest thing ever! I might have flown your name-tag first, but you definitely did it with WAY more style!! CONGRATULATIONS BUDDY! I'm so stoked for you and the team I could just pop!

Blackarrow
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posted 12-14-2018 07:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I assume on future flights they will burn the engine longer to pass the 100km mark which now seems to be the international benchmark for a spaceflight.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-14-2018 09:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It is not clear if SpaceShipTwo is capable of reaching 100 kilometers, but there is a growing campaign, based on scientific data, to lower the international demarcation to 80 kilometers (and the FAI has said it is open to considering such). For that discussion, see here.

Blackarrow
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posted 12-15-2018 01:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Noted. I can't speak personally, but I assume, that at least some of the people lined up to fly on SpaceShipTwo have paid their money to be able to say: "I have flown into space. I am an astronaut." To most, it may be more a case of the overall experience; the period of weightlessness; and the view. But we shouldn't underestimate the lure of that arbitrary line (currently denoting "the edge of space") — just look at the number of enquiries as to whether the recent aborted Soyuz mission got high enough for the crew to say they had been in space!

It might therefore be of quite pressing interest to at least some Branson customers whether that Karman Line is going to be shifted, and whether they will actually get to fly into space.

328KF
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posted 12-15-2018 02:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It will be interesting to see, once both Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin get flying revenue flights, how this all plays out in a competitive market.

SpaceShipTwo has about ten more seconds of burn time yet to test, but there was no word on if Thursday's flight involved any ballast in the cabin to simulate passenger weights. Once all of these variables are incorporated, we will know the true performance it is capable of, and which definition of "space" it can meet.

If New Shepard is able to exceed 62 miles (and we don't know that yet either) they will have a significant advantage in the marketplace and likely more customers, which may lead to lower a price faster.

Safety-wise, what appeared early on to be a brilliant, safe, design of SpaceShipTwo proved to have a flaw exposed by the accident. Questions still remain in my mind about how many cycles that composite structure can take... they've never been used in an application like this over long periods of time.

It seems to me that Blue Origin has a simpler, more basic approach at this time.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-15-2018 03:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by 328KF:
...there was no word on if Thursday's flight involved any ballast in the cabin to simulate passenger weights.
Prior to Thursday's flight, Virgin Galactic said (quoting from a release linked above):
We are at a stage now in our testing program where we want to start simulating the commercial weight distribution in the spaceship represented by our future passengers. Excitingly, we are partly achieving that on the next flight by carrying four research payloads that are part of the NASA Flight Opportunities Program.
quote:
Originally posted by 328KF:
If New Shepard is able to exceed 62 miles (and we don't know that yet either)...
New Shepard has exceeded 62 miles on all but one of its nine flights to date (on its first flight, it reached 58.1 miles). I believe, but could be mistaken, that its later flights have carried the payload equivalent of passengers, including a dummy in one of the seats.

328KF
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posted 12-15-2018 06:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, they say they are "partly achieving that" with the NASA payloads. What that doesn't say is that they have the vehicle loaded as it would be for a passenger flight.

We have seen both VG and BE fly stripped down cabins for these test flights. VG has shown off their cabin mockups years ago, and one can assume that BE will have certain amenities as well. All of that is more weight.

That we are currently seeing flights at these weights just barely making it (depending on which definition you choose), suggests that there is some question about the performance abilities of the fully loaded ones to come.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-19-2019 11:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Virgin Galactic is planning its next test flight for Wednesday (Feb. 20).
The spaceship will be a little heavier than last time, and very close to a full commercial weight.

OV-105
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posted 02-19-2019 01:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for OV-105   Click Here to Email OV-105     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would be surprised if they fly Wednesday. We have been having very high winds here in the desert the last couple of days and they are supposed to be blowing again Wednesday.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-19-2019 01:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When it takes off on its fifth powered flight, VSS Unity will be flown by Virgin Galactic chief pilot Dave Mackay. His co-pilot will be Mike "Sooch" Masucci.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-20-2019 09:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Virgin Galactic on Twitter, next attempt will be Friday (Feb. 22):
Our test flight window opened this morning, but the Mojave weather isn't cooperating. We plan to try again in the next few days. We'll keep you posted.

OV-105
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posted 02-21-2019 12:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for OV-105   Click Here to Email OV-105     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thursday will definitely be out, there is a good chance of snow in Mojave. This is the wettest winter we have had on the desert in about five years or more.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-22-2019 10:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Virgin Galactic on Twitter:
Take off! WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo have taken to the skies as our team watch on below.

Today is flight number 264 for WhiteKnightTwo and number 16 for SpaceShipTwo Unity.

We have a third crew member in the cabin of SpaceShipTwo today, Chief Astronaut Instructor, Beth Moses. She will provide human validation for the data we collect. Including aspects of the customer cabin and spaceflight environment from the perspective of people in the back.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-22-2019 10:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Virgin Galactic on Twitter:
Release, release, release! SpaceShipTwo is flying free, having separated cleanly from its mothership WhiteKnightTwo.

SpaceShipTwo's rocket motor has been ignited by our pilots Dave Mackay and Mike "Sooch" Masucci. SpaceShipTwo is pointed skywards.

SpaceShipTwo travelling at Mach 1.4.
Mach 2.0.
Mach 2.5.
Mach 3.0.

Rocket motor shut down. Momentum keeps SpaceShipTwo travelling upwards.

SpaceShipTwo enters coast phase. Tail-booms raised into “feathered” re-entry position.

SpaceShipTwo, welcome back to space.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-22-2019 11:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Virgin Galactic on Twitter:
SpaceShipTwo begins descent.

SpaceShipTwo now at 240,000 feet on way home.

SpaceShipTwo feather retracting.

50,000 feet. Feather is halfway down.

SpaceShipTwo feather is down and locked.

SpaceShipTwo is starting approach checks and is at 20,000 feet on way home.

Landing gear down on SpaceShipTwo as it comes in for landing at Mojave Air and Space Port.

Touch down, SpaceShipTwo.

Wheel stop, SpaceShipTwo.

SpaceShipTwo is back on Earth after landing smoothly at Mojave Air and Space Port.

Congratulations to our Chief Pilot, Dave Mackay. Today, you became the 569th person to enter space and the first Scottish-born astronaut!

Congratulations to our pilot Mike "Sooch" Masucci. Today, you became the 570th human to travel into space.

Congratulations to our Chief Astronaut Instructor, Beth Moses. Today, you became the 571st human to travel into space.

SpaceShipTwo reached an apogee of:

  • 55.87 miles
  • 295,007 feet
  • 89.9 kilometers

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-22-2019 01:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Virgin Galactic on Twitter:
Our Chief Astronaut Trainer, Beth Moses, experienced zero-g float time as SpaceShipTwo reached apogee today. Three new Virgin Galactic Commercial Astronauts.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-22-2019 04:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Parabolic Arc's Doug Messier:
Virgin Galactic's Chief Astronaut Trainer Beth Moses describes floating in zero gravity aboard SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity.

perineau
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posted 02-28-2019 10:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for perineau   Click Here to Email perineau     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does anyone happen to know the birthdate of Beth Moses? I'm working on a table of women astronauts and I can't find her birthdate. I sent several messages to Virgin Galactic but got no replies. Thanks for any help!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-17-2019 10:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Beth Moses (birth name Natalie Beth Stubbings) was born on May 29, 1969.

perineau
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posted 03-18-2019 04:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for perineau   Click Here to Email perineau     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the info!


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