Designing a Spaceship for Everyone: A new technology and market that is out of this world! ICED11 Aerospace Keynote

Jonathan Firth (Author), Thomas J. Howard (Author), Tim C. McAloone (Author)

    Research output: Non-textual formSound/Visual production (digital)Research


    Virgin Galactic has been established as a commercial spaceline to provide safe and affordable access to space for people, science and payload. In the first instance, it will transport space tourists on a sub-orbital spaceflight experience, during which they will be able to experience weightlessness for several minutes. Achieving this has already involved overcoming several significant design challenges; a two-stage spaceflight system has been designed, with a spacecraft being released from its mothership at altitude and the spacecraft subsequently deploying a novel means of achieving safe re-entry to the Earth’s atmosphere. In addition, the prototype design for the spacecraft, which was flown by a lone pilot into sub-orbital space in 2004, has been scaled up to include a passenger cabin large enough for Virgin’s commercial flights to carry six passengers. The spacecraft design has also been thoroughly overhauled to provide the spaceflight experience that Virgin’s early research identified as essential to delivering the required customer experience and thereby establishing a sustainable business. This presentation will summarise the main cross-discipline challenges that Virgin is working to overcome and the progress made so far on its plans to turn commercial space travel into a reality.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2011
    Place of PublicationDTU
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

    Bibliographical note

    In series: Proceedings of ICED11


    • Innovation
    • Design
    • Lifecycle
    • Product life cycle
    • Product lifecycle


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