February 21, 2007 4:56 PM PST

NASA, Virgin Galactic to develop hypersonic spacecraft

NASA said Wednesday it has inked a two-year agreement with space-tourism company Virgin Galactic to collaborate on future technologies for commercial spaceflight.

As part of the deal, Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic will work with the scientists and facilities at the NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley to support its current plans for suborbital spaceflight. By 2008, Virgin Galactic, a U.S. subsidiary of Branson's Virgin Group, plans to take six passengers up to a low-Earth orbit in its SpaceShipTwo. How exactly NASA will assist in that effort is still up for discussion, according to a NASA representative.

In addition, NASA and Virgin Galactic will explore the development of technologies that go beyond Virgin's suborbital effort. Those will include hybrid rocket motors and hypersonic vehicles capable of traveling five times the speed of sound, according to NASA.

Virgin Galactic is "really looking forward to exploring opportunities for the future and making hypersonic point-to-point travel a reality," Virgin Galactic Chief Operating Officer Alex Tai said in a statement.

NASA and Virgin Galactic signed a memorandum of understanding that stipulates neither will "pay fees or provide funds to support the areas of possible consideration."

The private-public partnership is only the latest for the government agency, which has faced cutbacks in recent years. For example, NASA Ames has teamed with everyone from Mountain View, Calif.-based Google to Oklahoma-based Rocketplane Kistler to explore new space technologies.

"This new type of private-public partnership can benefit the agency while helping to foster a new industry," said Dan Coughlin, who works at NASA's Space Portal, a newly formed group to foster space tourism, and who forged the Virgin Galactic deal.

31 comments

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No money = no product
--- snip ---
NASA and Virgin Galactic signed a memorandum of understanding that stipulates neither will "pay fees or provide funds to support the areas of possible consideration."
--- snip ---

This must be a misquote because if neither is going to put out any money then the employees are going to have to do the work for free and on there own time.

If the employees are going to do this for free, the employees might as well keep the benefits and sell them to Jeff Bezos's amazon.com spaceship thing.
Posted by georgescott (48 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Very possible
that they will raise the funds to pay the fees from interested parties, or have companies pay the funds for NASA and Virgin to develop spaceships for them.

I seriously doubt that they would expect employees to work for free, that only happens in Communist countries anyway.
Posted by Orion Blastar (590 comments )
Link Flag
Or....
Nobody said anything about staffing.

A bunch of guys from NASA and buynch of guys from Virgin Galactic can sit down, discuss previous results, compare technologies garnered through their own R&D, design a hybrid based on the best of both, and if the time comes that money needs laying down for a prototype, a new agreement involving proportional donation can be drawn up.
Posted by djcaseley (85 comments )
Link Flag
No money = no product
--- snip ---
NASA and Virgin Galactic signed a memorandum of understanding that stipulates neither will "pay fees or provide funds to support the areas of possible consideration."
--- snip ---

This must be a misquote because if neither is going to put out any money then the employees are going to have to do the work for free and on there own time.

If the employees are going to do this for free, the employees might as well keep the benefits and sell them to Jeff Bezos's amazon.com spaceship thing.
Posted by georgescott (48 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Very possible
that they will raise the funds to pay the fees from interested parties, or have companies pay the funds for NASA and Virgin to develop spaceships for them.

I seriously doubt that they would expect employees to work for free, that only happens in Communist countries anyway.
Posted by Orion Blastar (590 comments )
Link Flag
Or....
Nobody said anything about staffing.

A bunch of guys from NASA and buynch of guys from Virgin Galactic can sit down, discuss previous results, compare technologies garnered through their own R&D, design a hybrid based on the best of both, and if the time comes that money needs laying down for a prototype, a new agreement involving proportional donation can be drawn up.
Posted by djcaseley (85 comments )
Link Flag
Cancel NASA
NASA=welfare for scientists

NASA IMO is a complete waste of money. $16B/yr and they cannot even launch a human being into space safely after 40+ years of trying. It's beyond ridiculous and beyond even pathetic. NASA is nothing but a government make work program. The cold war is over. Cancel NASA and create tax incentives instead. Better yet, just cut all taxes and let people entertain themselves as they see fit. If that involves "outer space" then so be it.
Posted by scdecade (329 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ignorance
Welfare for scientists?!? The Nasa programs and its subsidiary
research has done more for this economy than just about any
other government program ever devised. Try learning some
history. Without NASA, there would have been no:
cordless power tools
freeze-dried food
ICs
kidney dialysis
CAT scans
Microprocessors
personal computers
plastic blow molding
modern running shoes
mylar
microwave ovens
modern home insulation

Just to name a few.
Seriously, this whole "Government is bad and big government is
evil" thing has gotten to the point that it is just idiotic.
People all cry about minimizing government until they actually
have to deal with minimized government.
If it were not for the contributions of NASA, our lives would be
decidedly less interesting.
This attitude is typical of the superficial and uninformed shallow
analysis that goes into this mentality
Posted by DeusExMachina (516 comments )
Link Flag
NASA space freeze
Sitting between stars and galaxies in real time is fine! I'd wanna be there. Besides what doesn't cost money. Just think of all the alien jokes, environment snobs and a cup of tea in that space kitchen. Who cares if some do and some don't. It's way out (of my reach). Go for it!
Posted by furthermail (2 comments )
Link Flag
Need NASA for safety.
Only issue is that we need NASA for security in space. I wouldn't want to trust a company to tall me about space born viruses etc. It has to be the government.
Posted by Blito (436 comments )
Link Flag
Cancel NASA
NASA=welfare for scientists

NASA IMO is a complete waste of money. $16B/yr and they cannot even launch a human being into space safely after 40+ years of trying. It's beyond ridiculous and beyond even pathetic. NASA is nothing but a government make work program. The cold war is over. Cancel NASA and create tax incentives instead. Better yet, just cut all taxes and let people entertain themselves as they see fit. If that involves "outer space" then so be it.
Posted by scdecade (329 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ignorance
Welfare for scientists?!? The Nasa programs and its subsidiary
research has done more for this economy than just about any
other government program ever devised. Try learning some
history. Without NASA, there would have been no:
cordless power tools
freeze-dried food
ICs
kidney dialysis
CAT scans
Microprocessors
personal computers
plastic blow molding
modern running shoes
mylar
microwave ovens
modern home insulation

Just to name a few.
Seriously, this whole "Government is bad and big government is
evil" thing has gotten to the point that it is just idiotic.
People all cry about minimizing government until they actually
have to deal with minimized government.
If it were not for the contributions of NASA, our lives would be
decidedly less interesting.
This attitude is typical of the superficial and uninformed shallow
analysis that goes into this mentality
Posted by DeusExMachina (516 comments )
Link Flag
NASA space freeze
Sitting between stars and galaxies in real time is fine! I'd wanna be there. Besides what doesn't cost money. Just think of all the alien jokes, environment snobs and a cup of tea in that space kitchen. Who cares if some do and some don't. It's way out (of my reach). Go for it!
Posted by furthermail (2 comments )
Link Flag
Need NASA for safety.
Only issue is that we need NASA for security in space. I wouldn't want to trust a company to tall me about space born viruses etc. It has to be the government.
Posted by Blito (436 comments )
Link Flag
How about 10 % the Speed of Light
Propose taking space shuttle round trip to Mars,

144d days ! - 62,000,000 miles/hr !

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.p2pnet.net/story/14705" target="_newWindow">http://www.p2pnet.net/story/14705</a>
Posted by grey_eminence (153 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How about 10 % the Speed of Light
Propose taking space shuttle round trip to Mars,

144d days ! - 62,000,000 miles/hr !

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.p2pnet.net/story/14705" target="_newWindow">http://www.p2pnet.net/story/14705</a>
Posted by grey_eminence (153 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Should be 67,000,000 NOT 62,000,000
Eh, a million miles an hour more or less
nothing could be sweeter.
Posted by grey_eminence (153 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Should be 67,000,000 NOT 62,000,000
Eh, a million miles an hour more or less
nothing could be sweeter.
Posted by grey_eminence (153 comments )
Reply Link Flag
HAHA yer would be sweet (Y)

Just wonder what the breaking Distances are at those speed lol wouldnt want another ship to pull out in front of you haha
Posted by Scuba212 (1 comment )
Link Flag
gosh, ...
that's really swell :)
Posted by Lolo Gecko (131 comments )
Reply Link Flag
gosh, ...
that's really swell :)
Posted by Lolo Gecko (131 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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