back to article Come glide with me: Virgin Galactic gives Unity some fresh air, looks forward to rocket-powered flight

Spaceport America took another tentative step toward actually being a spaceport last week as Virgin Galactic took its SpaceShipTwo for another glide back to the runway. "Unity" was flown by Mark "Forger" Stucky and Michael "Sooch" Masucci and hit a glide speed of Mach 0.85 after being dropped from VMS Eve at 51,000ft. It was …

  1. Mike Richards

    Arianespace - long term plan?

    Arianespace pretty much created commercial space and has had a sizeable chunk of the market for decades now - but what is the long-term plan? Obviously, there is going to be a political demand in Europe to have its own access to space for defence, science and the like so those launches will continue, but what about the ones that put food on the table? SpaceX is much cheaper than anything Arianespace has right now and will be cheaper than the Ariane 6 which is supposed to cut costs over the Ariane 5.

    Have they said anything about trying to compete with SpaceX for the commercial market?

    1. tony72

      Re: Arianespace - long term plan?

      There was a post recently about them having developed a prototype reusable rocket engine for future re-usable vehicles, but I'm not sure how far off they are, it sounded like it was at a pretty early stage.

    2. Spanky_McPherson

      Re: Arianespace - long term plan?

      The Arianespace Vega, which can carry 1400kg, costs $37million per launch according to Wikipedia.

      The Electron can carry 200kg and costs only $6 million.

      For small payloads, SpaceX is definitely not the cheapest option.

      1. John Jennings Bronze badge

        Re: Arianespace - long term plan?

        Falcon 9 is a medium rocket - LEO with apparently 16000 KG, while Ariane 5 is 21000 KG.

        Ariane has done flights to GEO, and Geo transfer orbit - Falcon

        Falcon 9 can now do a comparable weight - but only when the rocket is expended - which would drive up the cost...

        Very few falcon 9's make it to GTO/GEO and be recovered- less than 5 tonnes (metric) seem to be the max i can do. Ariane can do around 10 tons GTO

        Falcon Heavy can launch much more mass to LEO and still do recovery (in theory) - but has had only a few outings.

        Falcon heavy has only 1 commercial (and 1 military) launch of sattelites to GTO to date, so metrics are hard on it at the moment.

        At the moment, there is a market for Ariane 5.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Arianespace - long term plan?

          But there is less of a market to GTO with more communications satelites being swarms of LEO rather than 10ton fixed monsters

  2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Spherical Cow Bronze badge
      1. JDPower

        No, along. I was referencing the errors in the article - "SpaceX was not along in suffering"

    3. MyffyW Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Aren't we all alone on some level? Alone with ourselves. So very alone ...

      [Paris, because I'm sure she often contemplates metaphysics]

  3. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Behnken is not a NASA astronaut

    He's employed by SpaceX, not NASA.

    1. John Jennings Bronze badge

      Re: Behnken is not a NASA astronaut

      He is a NASA astronaut - employed by Space X.

      He has flown several times for NASA.

      Once you are a NASA astronaut, you are always an astronaut - we refer to Buz Aldrin as an astronaut - not a former astronaut.

      1. John Jennings Bronze badge

        Re: Behnken is not a NASA astronaut

        https://www.nasa.gov/astronauts/biographies/robert-l-behnken/biography

    2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Behnken is not a NASA astronaut

      He most certainly is a NASA astronaut.

      C.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: Behnken is not a NASA astronaut

      Sorry, but he is. Once an astronaut, always an astronaut.

  4. fishman

    "For small payloads, SpaceX is definitely not the cheapest option."

    Unless the payload is ridesharing. It doesn't eliminate the small payload launch segment but significantly shrinks it.

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