Watch NASA’s Live Briefing On Manned Mars Mission Progress And Orion Testflight


Originally posted on TechCrunch:

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

NASA is gearing up for its manned mission to Mars, and a key step will be Thursday’s launch of the Orion capsule to a destination 3,600 miles from Earth, loaded with sensors rather than people for this initial trial run. The test launch will use NASA’s heavy-lift Space Launch System in the future, but for this trial run it’ll be using an existing Delta IV Heavy rocket starting at 7:05 AM on Thursday, should everything go as planned.

This is just a very early step in the overall trajectory of achieving a manned journey to Mars – the SLS system is being groomed to first send humans to destinations such as deep space asteroids sometime in the next decade, before eventually making the trek to Mars at some later date.

Tune in to the video feed above at 12 PM ET to hear more…

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Descent ‘feathers’ deployed just before Virgin Galactic space plane’s crash


Originally posted on Gigaom:

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo crashed Friday after special tail “feathers” meant to increase drag deployed early, BBC reports. One pilot unlocked the feather system, but it then deployed without a command.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which is conducting the investigation into the doomed flight, has not yet stated if the feathers caused the crash. On Friday, scrutiny was placed on the never-before-flown mix of fuel Virgin Galactic has used. The Wall Street Journal reported SpaceShipTwo’s fuel tanks and engines were recovered “largely intact,” making an explosion less likely.

“If there was a huge explosion, it didn’t occur, I didn’t see it,” Mojave Spaceport CEO Stuart Witt, who was at the scene during the crash, said at a press conference Friday.

The pilot that died in the crash has since been identified as Michael Alsbury. He was a pilot for Scaled Composites for 13 years. He flew SpaceShipTwo during its first-ever powered flight…

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Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Has Crashed


Originally posted on TechCrunch:

space ship two

This morning, Virgin Galactic tweeted that their SpaceShipTwo spaceplane had experienced an “in-flight anomaly”

We have now confirmed that SpaceShipTwo has crashed during a test flight due to currently unknown causes. A press conference is planned with more details at 2 pm pacific.

SpaceShipTwo was designed primarily for space tourism, meant to carry passengers high enough to experience near-weightlessness for roughly $200,000 per ticket. This was a test flight, however, so no passengers are believed to have been onboard.

Update: VirginGalactic confirms the loss of SpaceShipTwo. See timeline below.

WhiteKnightTwo, the jet-powered craft that carries SpaceShipTwo to altitude before detaching, landed safely. At an altitude of roughly 50,000 feet, WhiteKniteTwo releases SpaceShipTwo to fly on its own by rocket power. WK2 had released SpaceShipTwo for free flight roughly 6 minutes before the crash.

There were at least two pilots on board SpaceShipTwo before the crash; their status is unknown. We…

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