WASHINGTON – As Virgin Galactic gets closer to its first isorbital flight to space, a possible change in terminology could make it easier for the company to achieve that milestone.
In an interview with CNN announced on November 30, the founder of Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson, said the company was within weeks to fly its space space Space space to space. That vehicle, known as VSS Unity, has been performing a series of power test trips, most recently July 26.
"Space is difficult," said Branson in response to a question quoted by unnamed critics that they did not believe the company would be able to reach space with SpaceShipTwo. "Obviously, we would like to prove our critics wrong and I'll be quite confident that we will do it, before Christmas."
Branson suggested in October's interview with CNBC that SpaceShipTwo's first flight would come into "weeks, not months." The company's officials then refused to comment on that timetable, with a long policy of installing deadlines and deadlines, although they indicated that they intended to perform at least one powerful test flight before the end of the year.
Virgin Galactic's chief executive George Whitesides, did not give a specific schedule in a November 27 speech at SpaceCom Expo in Houston, but suggested that advanced and advanced test flights came soon. "The next flights will be even more exciting" than fly July, which reached a maximum height of 52 kilometers, he said. "We'll see some of the sooner."
July's flight included a 42-second burn of SpaceShipTwo hybrid rocket motor, which has designed to fire for about 60 seconds on a typical flight. "We're where we want to add a lot of apogee if we keep the rocket motor burn," said Whitesides during a lunchtime talk at the Space Settlement Summit, November 2 in Los Angeles .
One question is the height that SpaceShipTwo needs to reach to consider reaching a place. Although there is no formal boundary of place in agreements or law, industry has often used a 100km height, known as Karman Line after the late aerodrome engineer Theodore von Kármán. That definition gained prominence during the Ansari X Prize for commercial isorbital vehicles, won by SpaceShipOne in 2004 when it was flying above that height twice within two weeks, as well as during a trial aviation three months earlier .
However, there has been an industry speculation that SpaceShipTwo will not be able to reach that height in its current configuration with a full full payment of space space participants or on-board experiments. Whitesides asked for a height in her Los Angeles talk, which was referred to instead of a lower height used by the US government.
"For Virgin Galactic, the most important milestone we see is the height that NASA and Air Force people have astronaut wings, which is 50 miles," he said. "For our customers, I think we'll focus on at least 50 miles, at the beginning."
International organizations are now looking at the definition of the Karman line. In a November 30 statement, the Aéronautique Internationale Federation (FAI), the world air sports federation that records records for flight and space issues, would be working with & # 39; The International Warriors Federation (IAF) to reconsider what height should be considered in the boundary of space for record keeping purposes.
"Recently published analyzes present a compelling scientific case for reducing this height from 100 km to 80 km," the FAI said its statement. Eight kilometers is about 50 miles. FAI said he offered the IAF that "an international workshop was held during 2019 to explore this issue in full with input and participation by the astrolegemics and the astronomical community."
The FAI statement did not mention the specific analyzes that led to the reconsideration of the height of the Karman Line. However, one such newspaper has recently been published in the magazine Astronautics Act by Jonathan McDowell, historian and historian of lighting at the Harvard-Smithsonian for Astrophysics Center, which recommended reducing the Karman Line to 80 kilometers.
That paper, apart from exploring the historical record, included extensive mathematical analysis, modeling forces on spacecraft traveling through the highest atmosphere. The collection, for most satellites, found that gravity exceeds aerodynamic forces at a height of 70 to 90 kilometers. "Based on these physical, technological and historical arguments, I therefore suggest that the value of 80 km is a more suitable option to use as the edge of a lower canonic space in circumstances where there is a line of such between the atmosphere and space desirable, "the paper came to an end.
Whitesides referred that paper in his comments last month. "If you look back in space history, it is not quite clear that Kármán believes that 100 [kilometers] really was the right place, "he said." There's a kind of nice round number. "
That split line has not been a problem for the other company to follow a commercial human suburban space trading system. Blue Origin's New Shepard has been more than 100 kilometers on a number of tested flights, including the 18th place where the vehicle crew capsule reaches a maximum height of about 119 kilometers thanks to the use of an abortion device shortly after separating the vehicle's litter module.