Branson’s adventure

Comment: Well, pilgrims. let’s wish him well. I have always felt fairly good about him since he threw a glass of water in Colbert’s face for his idiocy. And what happened after that? pl

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19 Responses to Branson’s adventure

  1. Bill H. says:

    Truly awesome mission statement. “Unity 22 will focus on cabin and customer objectives, including the commercial customer cabin with a full crew, including the cabin environment, seat comfort, the weightless experience and the views of Earth that the spaceship delivers.”

    I particularly like the “seat comfort” part and the “views of Earth.” I stand by my earlier comment with respect to “toys.” This is a very expensive carnival ride for very rich people.

    • Fred says:

      “…the views of Earth that the spaceship delivers.”

      I wonder what the carbon footprint for the space tourists will be? “We only have 12 years” and all that rubbish. I’m happy he’s making a go of it. Once we get the cost of lift down and create actual durable batteries we can generate some realistic space mining and exploration endevours. We should stop kidding ourselves about the climate rubbish though.

    • Mark Logan says:

      I believe what is going down here is comparable to the early days of Ferrari’s production car program. Ferrari’s production cars had a lot of HP, sophisticated suspension and brakes, but were a terrible value. The fit and finish inside is on a par with that of Fiat in most of them. The pricing exceeded production costs, even though they were essentially all hand made, by a ridiculous margin. The program is really a way to sponsor Ferrari F1 et al Racing technical development, and the customers knew it.

  2. Babeltuap says:

    Billionaires and their spaceships…just amazing. Real trailblazers pushing the frontier of human censorship. What looked looked like science fiction 30 years ago of suffocating freedom of speech on other planets (not just Earth) is not that far off! Incredible.

  3. TTG says:

    True. This and the Bezos Blue Horizon are carvel rides for millionaires and billionaires even thought they can also be used for space research and experiments. It’s a more expensive version of sport parachuting or bungee jumping. Still, kudos to Branson for being totally up front in his mission statement. Rich people always have and always will engage in such expensive frivolities. They’re still impressive.

    • Rob Waddell says:

      Those daring young men in their flying machines… so true TTG

      Read about the worlds first commercial airline flight from Tampa to St. Petersburg FL and similarities with Branson’s adventure here:

      The original airline company may not have lasted long but but look what has happened to airline travel a mere 102 years later (discounting covid19 restrictions in the last year and a half).

      There is a small museum devoted to this endeavor on the St. Petersburg waterfront which is well worth a visit if you get down to those parts and I know you will someday. Its next the the Salvador Dali museum that houses an extensive viewable collection of Dali’s and other Avant-garde works, again, well worth a visit.

      • TTG says:

        Now that you mention it, I can see what Branson and Bezos started evolving into spaceline travel maybe to some orbital or Moon-based resort. It will surely be for the adventurous elites just like early air travel.

        I like that commercial seaplane. I always liked that type. The ability to land on the water to fix a problem is a real benefit. I’m especially fond of the Austro-Hungarian Lohner L flying boat. It reminds me of a dragonfly, but it proved quite a competent war machine. Two of them managed to sink a French submarine in the Mediterranean. The Italians liked it so much, they copied a captured example.

        I remember taking the bridge from Tampa to Saint Petersburg. It seemed to go on forever. I can see how seaplane travel between the two would be popular.

        The closest I’ve been to a being in a flying boat was planing on a close reach on my windsurfer. It was exhilarating to be screaming over the chop. I’m sure it wasn’t, but it seemed faster than an iceboat.

        • Pat Lang says:


          Yes, the Panam China Clipper was a wondrous way to travel. Roomy, good food. only one class of service, it was grand but it was actually a profitable enterprise. the Branson thing looks useless to me for other than a toy for the rich unless it can be scaled up to carry cargo into orbit. And then, can you see that bird doing reentry?

          • TTG says:

            Those China Clippers were more like train travel than airline travel. Posh. I got spoiled by train travel in Europe and was quite happy to take the train (VRE) to work at DIA fro several years. We even had a cafe/bar car when I first started taking it. Truly a civilized way to travel.

            That first commercial flying boat only carried one passenger across the Bay. It’s about as far away from the China Clippers as Branson’s rocket plane is from what we will see 20-30 years from now.

          • Pat Lang says:

            I still want to know how that dragonfly or anything like it will do re-entry.

          • TTG says:

            Reentry heat may be a primary limiting factor for the altitude reached by Branson’s dragonfly. The space shuttle did it with ceramic tiles… except for that one time it didn’t work. Materials science must have made some progress since then. Musk originally planned for a liquid (fuel) cooled skin for his Mars rocket. I don’t know what will protect his stainless steel version.

        • walrus says:

          Look up my friend Michael Smith and “Southern Sun” – he flew around the world single handed in a sea-rey amphibian powered by a rotax engine -Guinness book of records.

          He now has a Russian “Sea Bear” – an exquisite amphibian that seats 6 – powered by two turbocharged rotax engines. His latest project is to convince border and immigration control to let him fly non stop to new zealand from his home private airstrip.

  4. Charlittemom says:

    Not sure if he truly got to space?! see Karman Line for definition of “space” vs within earth’s orbit. But bragging rights among fellow billionaires – yes definitely

  5. Mark Logan says:

    The scaling issue with the Scaled Composites/Branson air-launch seems to be the platform. When Paul Allen died that cut off the funding for the Stratolaunch/orbital vehicle platform. And a big mother it is:

    550,0o0lb external payload to 35,000 feet. That oughta do it.

    Seems plausible the current system is all Mr. Branson can afford. Yet the concept is sound as a cheaper method of getting small payloads into orbit. Let’s hope this attracts new sponsors,

    • Pat Lang says:

      Mark Logan

      “35000 feet?” That oughta do what? What about the re-entry issue?

      • Mark Logan says:

        The concept addresses the tremendous amount of their fuel just getting that first six miles up. Getting an orbital vehicle there and already doing 400kts reduces the size to just the last two stages, maybe just one big one. That must translate to somewhere around 550,000 lbs. This system could save a lot of money for small-ish payloads.

        I suspect they will address the reentry issue with tiles, should they ever manage to get something like the original Strato platform going again. Lacking that platform there seems no reason for them to have a heat-shielded glider. The plane they are using can not carry a rocket big enough to get that high.

        • Pat Lang says:

          Mark Logan

          So what good is it other than as a toy for the rich?

          • Mark Logan says:

            Besides a systems/concept test platform and a fishing expedition for another Paul Allen it’s indeed only a toy. A guy like Branson dreams higher. My thought is the building of the Strato shows the dream was originally orbital, and the loss of it indicates a lack of cash is what changed things.

        • TTG says:

          You can go back to the X-15 program for the start of Branson’s concept. The B-52s would carry the rocket plane up to 44,000 feet before releasing it and the X-15 would go up to 67 miles (100 km). For a time, an X-15 variant was to be used to launch small satellites of less than 150 lbs to orbit. For Colonel Lang’s question, some of the X-15’s skin was a heat resistant nickel alloy for reentry heat. Even so, perhaps flights, and reentries, above that 100km line may need a lot more than that. I still don’t know what the plan is for Musk’s stainless steel rocket. He had to add more heat shield to his crew and cargo capsules than originally planned.

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