back to article The day has a 'y' in it, so Virgin Galactic has announced another delay

Virgin Galactic's schedule woes worsened last last week as the company pushed its next flight to mid-October thanks to a potentially defective flight control component. This new delay will affect Virgin's first commercial mission, the 23rd for the VSS Unity rocket-powered spaceplane, after a supplier flagged a manufacturing …

  1. Overflowing Stack

    I used to find, about 10 years ago this pretty exciting, but Musk and .co have surely now rendered this all a little pointless?

    1. Psmo

      Only if you're happy with monopolies.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Well, yes, the gargantuan amounts of carbon-based emissions that Musk's erections produce on each launch will, if widespread, render everything pointless as they cook the planet to death in the fullness of time.

        He claims he will develop renewable biofuels to feed their appetite, but neglects to observe how many planets he will need to grow and process enough biofuel on.

        That's what happens when you spend your formative years without a mothership.

        1. My-Handle Silver badge

          Since you appear a little under-informed on the topic, I offer in good faith a video by Everyday Astronaut that addresses the subject at length:

          If you are disinclined to watch the full thing, here's the TL;DW: The amount of emissions isn't nothing, but it's not nearly as much as you think.

        2. Filippo Silver badge

          I'd suggest you look for some actual numbers for CO2 from the space industry, then compare them to CO2 from a variety of other human activities. You might find that, if we do end up cooking to death, rocket launches will have pretty much nothing to do with it.

        3. Cav Bronze badge

          This comment is the result of believing everything you read on the interwebs.

          1. awavey

            And on TV and in the newspapers, no less organisations such as the Guardian and Channel 4 news, were merrily printing and promoting the myth that billionaire Bezos had dumped 300tons of Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from his karmen line expedition

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              > 300tons of Carbon dioxide

              Neat trick for a hydrogen / oxygen rocket

      2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge


        A monopoly does not have to be evil but it does provide illegal opportunities. The sort of thing to look out for would be SpaceX putting their launch price up by $50M and bundling 1000 "free" Teslas with every launch.

        SpaceX prices are unpopular with their critics. When the US government buys a launch from SpaceX they say the prices is much higher than the cost to SpaceX (while still being far cheaper than the alternatives). When talking to investors they say the prices are much lower than the costs because no-one knows the cost of re-use, the investors are subsidising the price, re-use is impossible and only makes sense if you can re-use at least ten times, and other self contradictory rubbish.

        Investors are throwing money at anything that might be able to compete with SpaceX. Rocket Lab are close to being able to re-use stage 1 of their small Electron rocket and have started on a medium sized re-usable rocket. If Jeff cancelled his stupid legal actions he would be able to retain the staff required to build his own rocket.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Monopolies

          SpaceX prices are unpopular with their critics

          Trying to think of anything that is popular with its critics.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Monopolies

          > The sort of thing to look out for would be SpaceX putting their launch price up by $50M and bundling 1000 "free" Teslas with every launch.

          Thanks for the warning. Will be on guard.

    2. Andy The Hat Silver badge

      The "issue" is that SpaceX and Roscosmos launches of commercial cargo/passengers and Blue Origin (with it's err, uppy downy launches of something useful) have become basically reliable and basically on schedule. This is not like the old days when delays were common often due to development not keeping pace with flight plans and big bangs causing upsets to the schedules. I for one would rather suffer the inevitability of successful launches than wait for explosions to break the monotony because safety and development envelopes were pushed too hard ...

      The quesion is whether cost cutting to maximise profits on the balance sheet will compromise the safety of the systems ...

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        >The quesion is whether cost cutting to maximise profits on the balance sheet will compromise the safety of the systems ...

        Compared to the Space Shuttle ?

        The thing about maximizing profits is that it generally requires minimizing blowing stuff up.

        1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

          This is the difference - cost cutting to save money (NASA) or cost cutting to maximise profit (commercial entities).

          As you suggest, I would suspect that the requirement to maximise profit would help mitigate the explody bangy stuff but, at the same time, flight costs and contraints for competitive commercial companies will necessarily become tighter which will encourage pushing the envelope ... It will be interesting to see what happens.

          At present the "Aren't we great, public in spaaaaaccceeee!" jaunts make great publicity. However NASA found out the hard way that "publicity stunts" can go very very wrong and cost the company much more than the meagre profit of a single trip.

          1. James Ashton

            the requirement to maximise profit

            SpaceX is not a public company so maximising profit is much less of an issue for it.

            1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

              SpaceX is not a public company so maximising profit is much less of an issue for it.

              James Ashton,

              SpaceX has investors. Presumably they are smart enough to know that Musk isn't entirely in it for the money. But I seriously doubt if they'd have invested if he hadn't promised them a certain return on their cash. Depending on what the ownership percentages are, they could even be in a position to out-vote him - if he annoyed them all at once?

              Plus, I'm guessing here, Musk probably believes that the only way to a colony on Mars is to have a viable and self-sustaining space industry. Seeing as we can't realistically go straight from struggling with getting to low Earth orbit to regular Mars trips, that means some at least reasonably self-sufficient outposts in Earth orbit, or on the Moon or on asteroids. Mining / satellite repair / space manufacturing / other. Which means profits from more than just satellite launch. Government is currently happy with a bit of astronomy/science, satellites for communications, spying and environmental monitoring and a minimal amount of human spaceflight. So Musk needs to generate more demand for space industry, which he can partly do by making satellites cheaper. But it's going to take the lure of profits from some actually space-based industry to attract the kind of long-term investment into the space industry he wants to see.

              So he also needs profits to fulfill his dream. Just ideally not the short-term small extra ones you might get by cutting corners on safety. But big, fat juicy ones you might get from space mining or manufacturing of clever stuff in low-gravity and with limitless solar energy - if that's even possible / worthwhile.

              1. awavey

                You are aware of this thing called Starlink? another batch launched this morning where Falcon 9 is really learning the reliability & reusability stuff with a 90th successful booster landing.

                That alone cuts the costs of launching stuff into space and where you make big profits by not having to rebuild your launch vehicle every time,and that's before you start to capture the commercial benefits of providing broadband from space.

                1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge


                  That's a circular argument. At least at the moment. What you are arguing there is that you're lowering your costs to go to space by doing more launches for Starlink - even though Starlink doesn't make any money. Yet. Also you don't make as much profit from re-using your booster, if you are giving price reductions for using second hand boosters. Plus if you are trying to grow the satellite launch market by dramatically lowering the cost - you're trying to move from large profits per launch to pay for expendable hardware into economies of scale from higher production of re-usable hardware.

                  Thinks: I wonder when we'll reach the stage that there's a discount for being the first to use a rocket - and the insurance companies will push customers to the already proven re-used ones? Or have we already?

                  But I do agree. If Starlink makes money, which I'm sure it will, then it's a great example of how reducing launch costs brings more customers into the satellite market. Because I'm damned sure it wasn't viable when a launch cost $150m dollars. Owning the rocket company is also a competitive advantage, as you can stick a few starlink birds on other launches too.

                  When do launch costs get so cheap that a space hotel becomes commercially viable? Is that once Starship is proven?

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

        3. JimboSmith Silver badge

          The reason the Space Shuttle programme got enough funding in the first place I was told was because of the military/intelligence community. This was according former Nasa bloke I met whilst on holiday in the USA. They wanted to be able to launch payloads into space without the need to need to strap them to the top of a rocket. This was partially about secrecy and also because they could launch more complex satellites and do repairs to existing ones. The NRO in particular were very keen to use the Shuttle. Aside from any funding during the life of the Shuttle they also donated the a couple of their unused telescopes which apparently made the Hubble look like a child's toy.

    3. fpx

      No. It's a completely different value proposition.

      Microgravity for milliseconds on a Roller Coaster at Disneyland ... $50

      Microgravity for seconds in the Vomit Comet ... $5,000

      Microgravity for minutes + See Space package with Virgin Galactic ... $500,000

      Microgravity for as long as your oxygen lasts, Space included .... $50,000,000

      If you have the $50M to spare and don't have to be home by supper, then of course you will not give a second look to what Virgin Galactic has to offer.

      If you have less money in the bank but are desperate to see space, then Virgin Galactic may be your best shot.

      Me, I'll have to stick with the Disneyland rides until my lottery ticket comes in. I'm also still waiting for affordable balloon rides to space, since I care more about the space part than the microgravity part.

      1. Spherical Cow

        Er, balloons can't go to space? Not even the unaffordable ones.

  2. herman Silver badge

    No Ys in most of European days

    Where I live in the middle of Europe, there are no Ys in the days at all, but there are a few Ks: Nedela, Pondelok, Utorok, Streda, Stvrtok, Piatok, Sobota.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: No Ys in most of European days

      Clearly Mr Speed is confused because today is Sweetmorn, the 37th day of Bureaucracy in the YOLD 3187. Grudnuk demand sustenance!

  3. Phones Sheridan Bronze badge

    Supplier identified fault

    Maybe it’s me, but sometimes the tone of these articles always seem to be belittling which ever company is being written about, be it Virgin, Space X or Blue Origins. I remember the outcome back in Jan 28 1986 where a supplier identified a fault, who also ended up being belittled, bullied, threatened and ultimately overruled.

    Finding faults is not a bad thing when the ship is still on the ground, or during testing. But I guess that “Fault found, flight delayed, fault fixed” doesn’t cause big front page headlines.

    1. graeme leggett

      Re: Supplier identified fault

      Are you new here? This is the house style.

    2. Archivist

      Re: Supplier identified fault

      The Register has an "entertaining tabloid" style that is slightly more informative than the Sun or Mirror newspapers.

      In any case, good news never sold any newspapers.

    3. Annihilator

      Re: Supplier identified fault

      “Biting the hand that feeds IT” since 1994

  4. HildyJ Silver badge


    Why when I read "defective flight control component" did my mind immediately think Boeing.

  5. Mint Sauce

    Coffee and biscuits are served every ten years...

    ... whilst they continue to wait for their delivery of lemon-soaked paper napkins.

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