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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Cleavage of Opinion on Spaceflight Safety Raised

Women with breast implants may be banned from Sir Richard Branson's commercial space flights in case their breasts EXPLODE, according to a report from England's Online Sun.

"We've discovered there may well be issues with breast augmentation. We're not sure whether they could stand the trip; they could well explode," according to Virgin Galactic's Will Whitehorn after noting fear that implants may expand and burst due to cabin pressure which will be lower than on normal planes.

Virgin Galactic Pilots to Gain Chance at Commercial Astronaut Wings

Virgin Galactic is now offering thirty pilots of Virgin Atlantic Airlines the chance to become certified astronauts, according to a recent on-line publication. So, what is an astronaut today?

The academic and legal debate is what now constitutes an astronaut. The FAA has created the legal precedent providing astronaut wings to Mike Melville and Brian Binnie after successfully winning the X-Prize contest upon piloting SpaceShipOne more than 100 km (62.5 miles) into space.

Spaceflight participants (tourists) and crew are not deemed astronauts under the proposed FAA/AST regulations for suborbital flights. To earn astronaut wings from the FAA, the astronaut-pilot must be in control of the vehicle. NASA astronauts going to orbit, on the other hand, may be non-pilot mission specialists with most having earned military astronaut badges or pins.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Virgin Galactic Ahead, Sir Richard Declares in Dubai

The Race to Commercial Outer Space heated somewhat in Dubai as Virgin Galactic chairman Sir Richard Branson declared that his New Mexico-headquartered space firm is the only one to have a successful test-flight of a suborbital space vehicle in a pointed reference to recent announcements by Space Adventures.

"A number of companies around the world are offering space travel but they haven't tested and built any space ships. They certainly haven't had test flights into space. Virgin is the only company in the world that has actually achieved that," Branson said.

The British entrepreneur's comment was a distinct reference to recent announcements by the Virginia-based Space Adventures of deals to build new spaceports Singapore and Dubai and fly a new Russian-made tourist spacecraft carrying up to five tourist passengers each.

Branson also said the SpaceShipTwo engineering design details will be revealed in 2007 and that suborbital flights for space tourists are expected to start in 2008. Astronaut-pilots are being readied.

Ras Al-Khaimah Spaceport Books First Passenger

Adnan Al Maimani will be the first national from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to launch from a future commercial spaceport near the Ras Al-Khaimah International Airport aboard a new Russian-made Cosmopolis XXI vehicle now dubbed "Explorer."

His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, along with the UAE Department of Civilian Aviation, have granted clearance to operate suborbital spaceflights in their air space according to Space Adventures.

In the United States, the Federal Aviataion Administration's Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA/AST) regulates spaceports and suboribtal space vehicles such as the Southwest Regional Spaceport in New Mexico to be used by SpaceShipTwo.

In the future, going suborbital from spaceport to spaceport may result in the need for a new regime in space law since it may involve both UN space teraties and and international civil aviation law.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Fuel Your Spaceport Imagination

The Upham, New Mexico Spaceport is still more than a year away from hosting the first rocket race or suborbital spaceflight yet there is rocket fuel for the imagination in digital artistry.

The Southwest Regional Spaceport runway filled with departing rocket racers has been created by a digital artist to add to your computer screen. In the alternate, for those who desire the spirit of competitve rocket racing, a digital image of six racers streaking across the southern New Mexico desert will brighten the day.

The Rocket Racing League is planning up to ten teams to race through the desert skies of southern New Mexico. The rocket racers are the engineering designs of XCOR.

Spaceports: Dubai, Singapore, Kiruna and Upham

Newly proposed spaceports in Singapore and Dubai will use the Russian-made Cosmopolis XXI as the primary vehicle to loft commercial fee paying space tourists to suborbital space prior to the end of the decade with a recent plan being announed by Virginia-based Space Adventures.

Meanwhile, the Southwest Regional Spaceport, located in Upham, New Mexico, will be host to the first Virgin Galactic commercial space tourist launch effort being engineered by Burt Rutan of Scaled Composites. The SpaceShipTwo vehicle is expected to be in-test flight from the Mojave Spaceport in late 2007.

The race to "New Space" by Virgin Galactic and Space Adventures from a growing number of global locations will begin to caputure more of the public's attention as tourists launch to space. Suborbital spaceport transport from New Mexico to Kiruna to Singapore to Dubai may become the norm in the 2010 to 2015 timeline.

Recently, BBC Radio 4 did an audio program entitled The X-Factor on the future of commercial suborbital spaceflight may give the reader new insights on the lift vehicles that will be flying from the new spaceports.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Teachers to New Space: Taking Education Suborbital

Teachernauts or Teachers to New Space is an exciting new project being sponsored by the Space Frontier Foundation to send 200 American teachers to suborbital space and return them to the classroom. The relatively low cost project would provide a significant market boost to firms like New Mexico's Virgin Galactic and others endeavoring to take hundreds of people into space. Teachernauts would then return to their respective classrooms and enable thousands of students to create a new spacefaring generation in the 21st Century. To learn more click HERE.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Southwest Regional Spaceport Comes to Life

The Southwest Regional Spaceport is coming to life. A dream of many is finally becoming a reality thanks to the dedicated people who founded the New Mexico Space Alliance in the early 1990's. It is to those who made the dream a reality that this BLOG is dedicated.