Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Och high the noo!

Now I've heard everything - a spaceport on the Moray Firth! It's in the Scotsman so it must be true. Richard Branson is hoping to use RAF Lossiemouth or RAF Machrihanish in Argyll as launch sites for his Virgin Galactic space tourism flights - cost £110,000 per ticket. Will Whitehorn, President of Virgin Galactic says that the north of Scotland has the right conditions, especially in summer when the weather is quite good. - Translation: when the rain is falling vertically instead of horizontally.
Mr Whitehorn goes on to say that RAF Lossiemouth is an ideal location - "There is relatively little overflying by aircraft and fewer people on the ground who can get injured."
Injured by what exactly? This statement does not fill me with a great deal of confidence. Let's see, a big tank of liquid hydrogen and a big tank of oxygen in close proximity, sitting on a launch pad at RAF Lossiemouth with a thunderstorm raging overhead. Nope, can't see any problem with that whatsoever.
Surely the reason that space launch sites are near the equator, is to make the launch easier, by using the Earth's own angular momentum to help the ship into orbit? The latitude of Lossiemouth is two thirds up towards the north pole. Will it not be harder to launch at that latitude?
It seems a bit like the early railway companies of the nineteenth century; remember what happened there?
Oh great railway bridge over the silvery Tay...

3 comments:

Sapient Fridge said...

Have you looked at the technology yet, or are you just basing your comments on the newspaper article?

The Virgin galactic flights are sub-orbital, so latitude makes no difference.

They use solid fuel (N2O and rubber actually), there is no liquid oxygen and hydrogen involved.

http://www.virgingalactic.com/en
http://www.scaled.com/projects/tierone/index.htm

Would I got on a flight to space for $200,000 if I could afford it? Damn right I would!

Deacon Barry said...

Of course I'm basing my comments on the newspaper article. But that's why I posed some of my statements as questions. I knew there'd be someone out there who could fill in the technical details.
I've just had a look at those links you posted. It looks a whole lot better on the official website. I would definitely be tempted if I had the money. Why can't papers include URLs so I can check these things out before I post?

Sapient Fridge said...

Newspapers to include URL's so people can check the facts in their stories? I can't see them being too keen on that idea!