Fans of a new, cheaper space age led by private money making private profits with private rockets will enjoy two stories that the BBC's Jonathan Amos found during the runup to the annual Farnborough Air Show - on the outskirts of greater London's southwest side - that hits its peak this weekend.
- Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic to launch small satellites ; Sir Richard's company already has its SpaceShipTwo suborbital tourist-vehicle nearing operation. Now he's added a duty to the airplane that will haul it to the high atmosphere for launch: delivery of an orbital booster to its launch point. Amos compares the automated cargo craft to Orbital Sciences' Pegasus launcher but cheaper. No excloo, this news has wide pickup elsewhere too (Space.com ; LA Times ; Discovery News, for just a few).
- Move to open sky for Skylon spaceplane ; Skylon, huh? This is a fixture in the firmament of Brit space dreams. It's been around under various names for, like. forever. Actually, about 30 years. Amos is no idiot. The space he devotes to this hoary, but evolving, project suggest that maybe it is not pure pipedream. News is a gov't move toward regulatory approval of flights.
Grist for the Mill: Virgin Galactic Press Release ; An embedded video suggests that Branscom and his friends at Mojave's Scaled Composites or somebody has already built a full-scale, drop-test dummy of this vehicle, called LauncherOne. Or perhaps it's just special effects; Reaction Engines Ltd Skylon Project . Weird part: The jet-rocket engines are tubular, and bent ;
- Charlie Petit