Monday, 3 November 2014

Virgin Galactic: the warnings

Good article in The Telegraph about the tragic event where one pilot died. With hindsight we are all experts, but there where many people who warned before the incident happened, the only warnings that count. Some snippets from the above article:

Sir Richard Branson's space tourism company Virgin Galactic has been accused of ignoring a series of warnings that its $500 million rocket was unsafe for flight.

A number of senior aerospace engineers repeatedly voiced fears over the design of Sir Richard’s SpaceShipTwo and the safety protocols surrounding its testing.

The Telegraph has seen emails and other documents in the public domain — dating back several years, and as recently as last year — in which the engineers warned of the dangers of Virgin Galactic’s rocket engine system.

It also emerged on Saturday that three senior Virgin Galactic executives — the vice-president in charge of propulsion, the vice-president in charge of safety, and the chief aerodynamics engineer — had all quit the company in recent months.

The Virgin Galactic spacecraft, which was scheduled to begin passenger flights early next year, blew up in the sky above the Mojave Desert in California during a test flight on Friday.

The incident, in which one pilot died and another was seriously injured, puts in jeopardy Sir Richard’s dream of space travel for passengers, each paying $250,000 (£156,000).

One of the people who was highly critical of Virgin Galactic's enterprise is Tom Bower who wrote "Branson: Behind the Mask", about which I wrote here.

The book is an excellent "antidote" for all the hype and PR exercises that surround Branson.

The first chapter "Blow-Out", the last chapter "Journey into Space - Postponed" and many chapters in between are dedicated to the technical problems and delays surrounding Virgin Galactic.

Unfortunately (in the Malaysian context), not one word about Branson's investment (and subsequent divestment) in AirAsia X.

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