Virgin Galactic test flights will start again this year

virgin galactic test flights will start year spaceshiptwo
Virgin Galactic will press ahead with further SpaceShipTwo test flights during 2015, the company has confirmed. Development of the commercial space project has been on hold since the tragic crash at the end of October which killed co-pilot Mike Alsbury.

This time around, Virgin Galactic will take responsibility for the test flights from its partner Scaled Composites. “We’re committed to making any modifications or improvements that we feel are necessary to improve the safety of the vehicle,” Virgin Galactic chief executive George Whitesides has said, as Discovery News reports. “Because we made the investments required to begin building this vehicle years ago, our return to flight is closer than might otherwise have been expected.”

The second version of SpaceShipTwo was already under construction when last year’s crash happened, and the company says it will be ready to fly in 2015. “Our company is turning the corner and looking to the future,” added Whitesides. “Most of all, our team and our investors remain committed to the goal of opening space for all.”

An investigation into the October accident is currently being handled by the  National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Initial reports indicate that co-pilot Alsbury released the spaceship’s moveable tail section too early, before an adequate speed had been reached — the aircraft became unstable and was pulled to pieces as a result. Pilot Pete Siebold was able to parachute to safety and is still recovering.

“The support of our Future Astronaut community has been overwhelming: their loyalty during this time confirms that there is a real and passionate belief in and demand for private space travel,” reads a statement on the Virgin Galactic website. “We have also received support from people all around the world, both on the ground and in space. You have encouraged Virgin Galactic to continue our part in a long, often difficult tradition of exploration and advancement. You have told us that you believe that the space frontier must be opened, just as we do. For that, we thank you.”

Before the fatal incident, a time period of five-to-ten years had been suggested as a realistic target for getting tourists into space with a short period of training. Celebrities including Lady Gaga, Leonardo DiCaprio, Katy Perry and Justin Bieber have already put down $250,000 to be on the first flight.

[Image courtesy of Mark Greenberg / Virgin Galactic]

Product Review

By adding features, tech, and all-wheel drive, Mazda puts the 3 in a class of one

Since its introduction in 2003, Mazda’s compact Mazda3 has been a mainstay of the brand’s driver-oriented strategy. Mazda now plans to move upmarket, and the all-new 2019 Mazda3 offers some clues about how that’s going to work.
Movies & TV

MoviePass returns to unlimited movies plan, but with plenty of restrictions

Troubled subscription-based movie service MoviePass is making headlines on a daily basis lately, and not in a good way. Here's a timeline of events for the company once described as Netflix for movie theaters.

Autonomous shuttle rides coming to New York City via Optimus Ride

Workers at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in NY City will soon be able to make their way around the 300-acre industrial park in Optimus Ride's self-driving shuttles. The tech startup says it's the first trial of its kind in the state.

Waymo boosts robo-taxi plans with new service center in Arizona

Waymo has announced plans for a facility in Phoenix, Arizona, that will help to service, maintain, and grow its fleet of autonomous Waymo One cars. The vehicles operate as part of the company's robo-taxi ridesharing service.
Emerging Tech

China has cloned its best police dog. Now it wants to mass-produce more

Scientists in China have cloned the Sherlock Holmes of police sniffer dogs, with possible plans to mass produce it in the future. Here's why its creators think that's a great idea.
Emerging Tech

Scientists use drone to map Icelandic cave in preparation for Mars exploration

Researchers from the SETI Institute and Astrobotic Technology have demonstrated a way that astronauts may be able to map Martian caves using a Lidar-equipped drone that can travel autonomously without GPS.
Emerging Tech

A 3D printer the size of a small barn will produce entire homes in Saudi Arabia

If you’re looking for a 3D printer that can comfortably fit on the side of your desk… well, Danish company Cobod International’s enormous new 3D house printer probably isn’t for you.

Need a ride? Amazon is slashing prices on popular electric scooters

If you’re not much of a cyclist or if you’re looking for a lazier way to zip about town, an electric scooter should be right up your alley. Two of our favorites, the foldable Glion Dolly and the eco-friendly Razor scooter, are on sale…
Emerging Tech

Unexpected particle plumes discovered jetting out of asteroid Bennu

The OSIRIS-REx craft traveled to asteroid Bennu last year and won't return until 2023. But the mission is already throwing up unexpected findings, like plumes of particles which are being ejected from the surface of the asteroid.
Emerging Tech

Trip to Neptune’s moon, Triton, could inform search for extraterrestrial life

NASA has proposed sending a craft to Neptune to study its largest moon, Triton. Studying Triton could offer clues to how liquid water is maintained on planets, which may indicate what to look for when searching for life beyond our planet.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover passes its tests with flying colors

The Mars 2020 rover team has been undertaking a series of tests to see if the craft will be able to launch, navigate, and land on the Red Planet. Called Systems Test 1, or ST1, these tests represent the first test drive of the new rover.

Light up the night! Here are the five best headlamps money can buy

Headlamps make all the difference when camping or walking the dog at night, especially when you're in need of both hands. From Petzl to Tikkid, here are some of the best headlamps on the market.
Emerging Tech

A hive of activity: Using honeybees to measure urban pollution

According to a new study from Vancouver, bees could help us understand urban pollution. Scientists have found an innovative way to measure the level of source of pollution in urban environments: by analyzing honey.
Emerging Tech

Spacewalk a success as astronauts upgrade batteries on the ISS

The International Space Station was treated to some new batteries on Friday, thanks to two NASA astronauts who took a spacewalk for nearly seven hours in order to complete the upgrades.