At speeds of over 3800 kilometers per hour, how dangerous is Branson’s first space journey?

“I think this will be a more exciting journey,”

Focus on:

1. The VSS Unity spacecraft that Branson will take has completed more than 20 test flights, of which 3 successfully reached the edge of space.

2. In 2014, a fatal crash occurred on the Virgin Galactic spacecraft that resulted in the death of a test pilot.

3. A serious safety hazard occurred during a test flight of Virgin Galactic in 2019, which caused the wing seal to fall off.

4. The wing system of the spacecraft was identified as the “probable cause” of Virgin Galactic’s 2014 test flight accident.

5. VSS Unity has wings and takes off from the runway, the pilot has more time to correct errors.

6. The new Shepard rocket that Bezos will ride has less room for error correction, but has an emergency escape system.

Tencent Technology News, July 8 news, this weekend the space travel company Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson (Richard Branson) will take a rocket-powered spacecraft to the edge of space at a speed of 3,800 kilometers per hour. But the prerequisite for the success of this space journey is that everything goes according to plan, and there are many things that may go wrong.

At speeds of over 3800 kilometers per hour, how dangerous is Branson’s first space journey?

The rocket engine may fail to ignite; the passenger cabin may lose pressure, threatening the lives of crew members; when the spacecraft rushes out of the earth’s atmosphere and returns again, the violent friction with the atmosphere may tear the spacecraft.

But Branson is ready to start this adventure together with the pilot and Virgin Galactic staff. Virgin Galactic spent nearly 20 years developing this spacecraft. If everything goes according to plan, Branson will become the first billionaire in history to travel in space on his own-funded spacecraft, defeating fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos by nine days.

Fortunately, Virgin Galactic has built a strong security barrier for its spacecraft. Spacecraft II completed more than 20 test flights, of which 3 successfully reached the edge of space, obtained the approval of the internal safety review committee, and received the green light from the US federal regulatory agency to carry passengers for space flight.

However, manned spacecraft cannot completely avoid risks at any time. The following are the risks that Branson and the crew will take.

Spaceship VSS Unity

In 2004, Branson watched a space shuttle named “SpaceShipOne” enter space and won the Ansari X Prize, and founded Virgin Galactic on this basis. Branson bought the ownership of the technology and recruited engineers to develop a larger spacecraft capable of carrying two pilots and up to six paying passengers for high-speed flight. This improved spacecraft is called “Spaceship Two”.

At speeds of over 3800 kilometers per hour, how dangerous is Branson’s first space journey?

“Spaceship Two” will take off from the runway on the jet “White Knight Two”. Once the mothership reaches an altitude of 15,000 meters, the rocket-powered spacecraft will disengage from the fuselage of the “White Knight II” and start the rocket engine to accelerate to three times the speed of sound, which is directly upward at a speed of 3,800 kilometers per hour. Rush.

When the spacecraft reaches the top of the flight path, it will float in microgravity for a few minutes. Then the spacecraft will flip to adjust its attitude and glide back to the runway for landing. The entire journey takes about an hour from the spacecraft’s take-off to the landing on the ground.

VSS Unity is the name of the “Spaceship Two” on which Branson is riding, and it is also the first spacecraft to complete the entire space journey. VSS Unity has successfully conducted three space flight tests. Prior to this, Virgin Galactic’s development project experienced repeated delays for various reasons, including a fatal crash that caused the death of a test pilot in 2014.

Virgin Galactic planned to conduct a test flight in December last year, but it was interrupted because the VSS Unity’s onboard rocket engine computer lost connection. Shi writer Nicholas Mead (Nicholas Schmidle) has revealed that Virgin Galactic had encountered serious security risks in 2019 test flight. At that time, the seal on the wing of the spacecraft fell off, and the spacecraft and three crew members were in danger. A subsequent safety investigation called for the cause of the hazard to be found. However, the test flight did not cause casualties, and it was declared a success.

After the third test flight of the VSS Unity spacecraft in May this year, Virgin Galactic was approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to carry passengers. However, this does not mean that the FAA can guarantee the safety of the spacecraft. Virgin Galactic then unexpectedly announced that Branson will conduct the next test flight on July 11, becoming the first non-staff to conduct such space travel.

Aviation industry expert Markus Guerster co-authored a paper on the risks of suborbital space tourism in 2018. He said that there has never been a perfect time for the company to confirm that its spacecraft is safe enough to carry public passengers.

“This is a difficult decision to make. No matter how you prepare, the risks remain more or less. But if you don’t try, you won’t learn.” “I think the first batch of rides like this The people on the spacecraft will recognize this risk. It’s like there are still many people climbing Mount Everest.”

Orbital flight and suborbital flight

When most people think of space flight, they think of astronauts flying around the earth and floating in space for at least a few days. But this is not something Branson will do.

The spacecraft will come down immediately after it goes up. Although Branson will fly more than 80 kilometers above the ground, which is also the space boundary recognized by the United States, the space flight time of Virgin Galactic is still relatively short.

Virgin Galactic’s suborbital space flight speed is more than three times the speed of sound, about 3800 kilometers per hour, and it flies directly upwards. The spacecraft will hover at the top of its flight path, giving passengers a few minutes of weightlessness. This is a bit like the enhanced version of weightlessness when riding a roller coaster to the top.

Then, the VSS Unity spacecraft will unfold the so-called “wing system”, fold the wings of the spacecraft, and use an aerodynamic layout similar to a badminton to re-adjust its attitude when it begins to descend. Then the spacecraft will deploy its wings again and glide back to the runway for landing.

But this system does not always work. The wing system of the spacecraft was identified as the “probable cause” of Virgin Galactic’s 2014 test flight accident, which claimed the life of pilot Michael Alsbury and another pilot was seriously injured. Due to human error, the wing system was deployed prematurely during the test flight, causing the spacecraft to tear apart its body in mid-air. Since then, Virgin Galactic parted ways with its manufacturing partners and installed a computer security device to prevent the same error from happening again.

The New Shepard Rocket and Spaceship II

Although Branson denied that his space flight this weekend was a competition with Bezos, this has triggered a lot of discussion about the billionaire’s space race. As for the risks, Gerst said that the spacecraft that Branson and Bezos will use each have their pros and cons.

Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft have some inherent advantages. In fact, VSS Unity has a wing and takes off from runway level. If there is any problem, this will give the pilot more time to correct the course. According to Gerst, Bezos will take the space of the new Shepard rocket. The capsule is used for space flight, and there is less room for error correction. However, the New Shepard rocket capsule does have an emergency escape system that can eject passengers from the malfunctioning rocket and open the parachute to land.

Another major difference between the two spacecraft is that VSS Unity requires two pilots, while the New Shepard rocket is fully automated. When evaluating these different methods, experts have mixed opinions.

“You can’t say what is better or worse,” Gust said.

Despite this, the New Shepard rocket has completed 15 different test missions and has never had a catastrophic accident. So Gerst said that if he had to choose which spacecraft to test first, he would choose Bezos’ new Shepard rocket.

However, Gerst added that he is also willing to take a space trip on Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity spacecraft.

“I think this will be a more exciting journey,” he said.

Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:
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