Space Race: Virgin Galactic Launch (Full Show)

Space Race: Virgin Galactic Launch (Full Show)

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We are minutes away from spaceflight history at eight thirty a.m. Mountain Time. Virgin Galactic mothership Eve is expected to take off carrying its spaceship the V SS Unity. This will be its twenty second test flight its fourth flight carrying human crew members into space. But the first flight carrying Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson Branson announced just over a week ago that he would be on this flight meaning he would beat Amazon founder Jeff Bezos who is planning to rocket into space with his own company Blue Origin. That happening on July 20th. No path to today has been long marked by design changes delays and tragedies. But in test flight in Maine went smoothly. And so far today it looks like all systems are go. I'll be delayed by just about 90 minutes. Let's get some perspective live on the ground in New Mexico from Bloomberg's Ed Ludlow. Ed thanks so

much for joining us. Give us an idea of what things are like on the ground in truth or consequences about 160 miles south of Albuquerque in the desert there. Yeah it's a party atmosphere hey it's him. Believe it or not it's been that way since 3:00 a.m. local time when people started to arrive. I'm told by sources in the company that the crew had a good morning. Everything was very relaxed calm despite that delay which was attributed to a lightning storm overnight which meant that they had to keep the spacecraft inside of the hangar. They couldn't bring them out overnight to start the preparations. So small delay. We're all excited here. The vessel is going to take off from south to north climb to

about 50 thousand feet before that separation where the S.S. unity will drop ignite and reach supersonic speeds within literally eight seconds reaching a top speed of twenty six hundred miles an hour. And that burn only lasts for like 70 seconds before they get to Apogee their highest point which is around 50 to 55 miles above Earth. And that few minutes and it is just a few minutes of weightlessness for Richard Branson the crew before they start that gentle descent hopefully back down to earth. And we're now just moments away maybe seconds away from potentially the launch of a lifetime. Tell us who's on board of course Richard Branson and others. Yeah the main focus of course is Richard Branson. Part of that dynamic contention is the race the space race between him and Jeff Bezos to be the billionaire

to go in on their own companies. KROFT He is principally on board to test the experience of paying customers of civilian astronauts. What it will be like for those that put down two hundred fifty thousand dollars for the privilege of doing it. But a lot of this activity is also about scientific research. Beth Moten Moses who basically leads crew training at Virgin Galactic she will be onboard evaluating the strength of the experience how the astronauts cope and she will be in charge of training those future civilian astronauts as well. Also Shery Ahn Bandler who is the V.P. of government affairs. She's got me

looking at the scientific nature. She's going gonna be doing an experiment in that microgravity environment to see how basically plants and their biochemistry fair coming in and out of microgravity stresses. And that's another future revenue stream for Virgin Galactic. They plan in the future to charge a higher rate around six hundred thousand U.S. dollars a pop for those few minutes of weightless scientific experiment. You also have Colin Bennett who's making his first flight into space. He used to work for Virgin Atlantic and he's now the pretty much lead engineer for operations here at Virgin Galactic. He will be up making sure that from an engineering standpoint the cockpit and the cabin operate in the way that they should be. We know that

there's already been one delay this morning. We still are not seeing the craft take off at this point. What do we know about the latest about when it's actually going to be taken off. Yes. So Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Kailey Leinz has just been on stage behind me welcoming everyone that's in attendance. There's a long list of VIP ISE and celebs including those that some of those that paid for the privilege of going up when the service is commercially ready. We understand that Elon Musk is

here. He said that we were about 10 minutes away so we were expecting a takeoff in about five minutes time from now. As far as I'm hearing from sources in the company everything is nominal everything is fine despite that earlier delay. And as I said the crew had a really calm stable morning. They were with their family and then the families lined the pathway as the crew left Spaceport America here in New Mexico entered the vehicles as drove them off to the runway. And they've been in OBSS Unity basically preparing for the last 30 minutes or so. You're watching our special coverage of Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson planning to take off. Minutes from now from a spaceport. In Truth and Consequences New

Mexico ad you know better than anyone. Anything goes in space. It can always be canceled a second before they had a test flight that was aborted back in December. What's it looking like now. I know we're in the middle of the New Mexico desert. The weather is looking good. But you know what are the chances this doesn't happen today. Yeah the biggest variable here is high winds. That the reason that Spaceport America is here in the New Mexico desert is because there are 350 days a year of perfect brilliant sunshine. Six thousand square feet of restricted air space perfect for sending up space vessels. But the biggest barrier is that high wind. And it's dangerous because this is completely carbon

composite. It's very lightweight vehicle both White Knight to the VIX BMC E that carries up the SS unity. MVS use unity itself so it is susceptible to win. But right now the conditions do look good for takeoff. It has been a long difficult path for Virgin Galactic to get here. Absolutely decades in the making. And I can't help but think of the tragedy back in 2014 that killed one pilot and badly injured another actually happening on the same class of as Spaceship 2 as V SS Unity. I'm wondering what you know about safety on board today. Yes. So according to sources there will be parachutes on board

VIX Unity. The four crew members and the two pilots have been trained to use those parachutes as well as other safety procedures. What happened in 2014 is that on a sense the unity vessel activated its landing procedure while it was on the way up at the time the investigators found that was probably due to human error but it raised questions about how could they possibly have a system that would allow you to start the landing procedure on takeoff. But that is what was attributed to the crash. It has since been rectified with the latest generations of vessel that Virgin Galactic is using.

Ed thanks so much for joining us. Please stand by. We'll get back to you as soon as that launch happens. I want to bring in Chad Anderson now founder and managing partner of Space Capital as seed stage venture capital firm with 80 million dollars under management. You are watching our live coverage of the Virgin Galactic launch carrying founder Richard Branson on Bloomberg Television Radio. And Quicktake. Chad you've been invested in investing in the space business for a long time. These launches happen. This one is particularly more high profile given that Richard Branson is onboard. How significant in this span of

space launch space flight history is today. How big a milestone is this. It's significant. I mean today is really exciting. And I'm excited to be here watching with you. This is a new era in human spaceflight. And it's been a long time coming. I mean so since the X Prize was won in 2004 where Paul Allen's team made it to space twice using the experimental version of this spacecraft that France and then later a license. So it's been 17 years of building and testing and getting to this point. It's been a long road. And it's you know it's fascinating for me to see that this is coming online at the same time as Bezos and his vehicle that's been at it for just about the same amount of time. So 20 years in the making. All coming to a head and two very different systems two very different architectures and approaches coming online within about a week and a half of each other. So today is is very significant and kind of ironic. You know the choice of architecture with going with a carrier plane

to drop the spacecraft was one of the arguments for that is that it can rise above the weather and they can launch in any weather. And that's what Virgin Orbit says makes the same argument for their satellite launches that they do under the wing of a 747. So kind of ironic that the weather would delay this vehicle today but now it looks like it's going to take off and we're all very excited to see it happen Chad. Much has been made of the differences between blue origin and Virgin Galactic. Of course if they do become space tourist carriers they will be direct competitors. But as you say

the technology is incredibly different. Branson will be on essentially a space plane today whereas Jet Blue Origin's New Shepherd goes up and down. Talk to us about the differences in the technology here the approaches of Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos. Yes. So they're both so aboard suborbital vehicles and the white knight carries up the spaceship as you see rolling out to the pad or out to the runway now. And so it's about an hour and a half total trip. Most of that is on the way up. The launch actually

is quite quick. And as I mentioned earlier it's a 70 second duration burn. So they go basically vertical and it's going to be quite a thrill. So I've done the centrifuge training for this. That wasn't enough to get an invite to this flight but you get six GS through your chest. And if you've ever felt that before I mean it's pretty intense. You go through training so that you can enjoy the experience when you're up there and you don't pass out. For example I mean this is the type of G forces that stunt pilots and aerial pilots go through and then they take

three and a half GS through their head as well. So it's an exhilarating experience should be really fun. And then when they get up there they've got three to four minutes of weightlessness and then before they glide back down and land on the runway like a space shuttle. So Blue Origin is a vertical rocket. You launch with a capsule on top and you sit. It's a little bit more spacious. The windows are bigger but you launch vertically. The whole thing takes about 11

minutes with Blue Origin's vehicle and the capsule attaches. And you have you know similar amount of time in weightlessness before you come back down under parachutes similar to what the Russians do in Kazakhstan. So two very different approaches. I mean from a technical perspective and also a business perspective the pricing strategy the go to market licensing technology which is what Branson has done versus building the whole thing from scratch that Bezos has done in an effort to do you know to use that technology as a base line to go on to do much bigger things for our audience live on Bloomberg TV Bloomberg Radio. And Quicktake this as our special coverage of Richard Branson's flight into space aboard Virgin Galactic. If you are watching on video right now what you're seeing are a lot of video of the carrier plane. It's VIX VNS Eve the. For Virgin Mothership and its caring VIX Unity Virgin spaceship. Below it Chad you mentioned Blue Origin here. And I

got to ask you there's been so much controversy about whether or not this is actually going into space. Do you think that Richard Branson today will go into space. Yeah. So there's been a lot of back and forth on this and to be I mean Frank in one of their earlier flights the FAA gave their pilots commercial wings. Right. So this is kind of an arbitrary definition of a on a gradient where you know where the space start in the atmosphere. And what's more interesting to me honestly is the fact that we are moving into an era where we have more people experiencing this and the moniker astronaut is going to very quickly start to stop meaning so much. Right. Suddenly we're going to just be passengers similar to what happened on airlines. I mean the earliest folks this they'd get their wings when they would fly. And there was a big

accomplishment. You know I went and flew on an airplane. It was reserved for only the most you know the wealthiest of us celebrities flying and black ties. And then there wasn't a coach class and in airlines until the late 70s. Right. They called it a tourist class. And so making airline travel available to most of us. And so you can imagine that a similar thing is going to play out here. And what I'm most interested in is that. All right. All right.

I'll cut you off. But it looks like Eve the mothership is picking up speed. Eve of course named after Richard Branson's own mother. And between the two planes on the end you see the VIX unity. That is the spaceship that will separate from Eve about 50 minutes after takeoff and then rocket up into space or to the edge of space. However you'd like to see it take Richard Branson and the crew up for five or so we believe. Minutes of weightlessness. They haven't been super specific. They've said Mothership Sakura Hall. We believe it'll be about five minutes.

They will get that view of Earth that so few humans have seen. And then as our Ed Ludlow mentioned earlier the rocket will change shape in air which is one of the key signatures of Virgin Galactic special technology. It's called feathering. The rocket will change shape for a safe reentry back to Earth. I want to bring in our Ed Ludlow who is on the ground watching Eve takeoff carrying Richard Branson two pilots and three additional crew members. Ed give us the mood on the ground. What are you

feeling. It is incredible. Unsurprising unsurprising. There are chairs and claps and applause and I could see it out of my peripheral vision. And then when it came in line with me that high pitched scream of the jet engine which is a hybrid burning solid and liquid fuels and a smooth takeoff you have to be honest it's an incredible moment. Any time there's a space launch. But to be here on the ground in New Mexico live on Bloomberg Television Bloomberg Radio and Quicktake. Absolutely incredible. As you said over the course of 45 minutes reaching somewhere between forty five thousand and fifty thousand feet before the S.S. Unity is released. It's a cool a

three to one release release release. That engine ignites and the burn within eight seconds hit supersonic speeds is 70 seconds steep OG up to around 50 miles above the earth's atmosphere. And Chad was talking about the stresses on the body that you're experiencing during that time. We found out this morning that Richard Branson himself was doing some training in a sort of centrifuge which basically simulates that experience of the G forces running through the body. It's a difficult one

because now it's just a waiting game. You know the way the delivery mechanism works that dual stage process they're just on their way up like a normal aeroplane takes off. And you wonder how those six human beings are feeling inside that spacecraft. Emily 10. Well for our audience live on Bloomberg TV Bloomberg Radio on Quicktake. This is our special coverage of Richard Branson's flight into space. Ed you mentioned those passengers the crew aboard for the next 45 minutes. It is really like a traditional space flight for all intents and purposes. I mean fifty thousand feet. Yeah it's about 15000 feet higher than a traditional commercial airliner travels when it goes coast to coast across the United States. What do you think they're feeling right now on board. What you think they're experiencing right now on board. What do

they see in the cabin. Well so the cabin is designed to maximize the experience of the paying customer right. It is very spacious. As I said both of the craft made out of a very lightweight carbon composites that is designed that way to make it energy efficient but also to make to minimize that kind of stuff inside the dense material. It's only 68 feet long so it's not that big. But on the way up they will be experiencing those kind of similar pressures to an airplane. But this airplane obviously goes much higher than say commercial liner around 37000 feet. This is going to fifty thousand feet.

You know they have had some training some limited training as I say. Richard Branson's definitely had some more specific G force training. The whole point of this exercise. The whole point of this big media event the world's media is gathered here is to prove that technology works. Stop. Please come back and explain what the experience is like. Because if you want to go on board

you've got to have a very healthy bank account. And I want to bring in Chad Anderson who's with us on set in New York. And Chad having gone through this training wondering what are feeling in this moment. Having invested in this industry for years on the hope on the promise that this would be something big. That there is a big future for space tourism that people around the world are going to want to board Virgin Galactic or

Blue Origin flights for that you know screaming few minutes of weightlessness in space. You know what are you feeling as you watch Eve takeoff. A lot of excitement. This has been we've been building to this point for a very long time and it's great to see it finally coming to fruition. I mean they have been talking about getting to space later this year. I

think since 2007. So it's kind of surreal to actually be watching it happen right now. You have to imagine that this is all part of the experience. I mean Virgin Galactic has built this in to everything they've done. So that's a long waiting game. People have put down deposits and so they've focused on everything

calling them future astronauts building a group of folks that come together. They have events. You know they come to Spaceport America. They they do these weightless parabolic flights on jets. They do the centrifuge training. You know it's a whole experience. And so you have to imagine that they have now taken that as well on launch day. And people experiencing this in-flight you know they're in a beautiful cabin lots of windows. You have to imagine the excitement is building and they prepared for this part of the experience as well. So you know you've got an hour to to get excited let your nerves settle. And you know that might actually make it much better and easier for you to enjoy that short period of time of intense stimulation you know.

So a bit of time to sort of get your feet under. You get prepared for the thrill of a lifetime. Chad earlier in our conversation you drew the parallel between transcontinental flight around the world flight and the way that prices have come down especially over the last few decades. And I wonder when you think the price of this type of experience will get to the point where really the masses of people can experience like they can experience buying a ticket on Southwest. I mean Virgin Galactic has said they want to do 400 of these flights per year from around the world. That's more than one every day. By the end of this decade we're still so early to be having this conversation but it's a fun one to have. So the pricing strategies of both companies have been very different and very interesting.

Virgin Galactic came out first and started taking deposits and they just assume you know they did some market research and they said that they think the market can handle two or fifty thousand per ticket. And people started to put down money for that. Blue origin on the other hand waited until they were ready to fly and they did a price auction much more sort of Silicon Valley approach to pricing. And they you know the ultimate price paid was 28 million for a similar arguably similar experience. And so now we know that the ceiling is much higher and anything that they they charge from here on out is going to look like a discount by comparison. But more interestingly and they now have all of that information about all of the other bids that came

in. How many there were how many. You know what people were willing to pay. And so they can now use that in their pricing strategy. We don't know. A blue audience going to charge yet. I've heard you know from reputable sources people who would know that it's well north of five hundred thousand dollars but we'll have to wait and see. But these are these are significant

significant prices in airlines. You know it took from the first flight in the early nineteen hundreds until the late 70s for a coach class to be developed. And I hope you know I think with technology today that the way that things develop I think that you know that we'll get there a whole lot faster. All right Chad. We should mention that about 700 or so people bought those initial tickets that were available from Virgin Galactic on their initial flights. We believe some celebrities purchased those tickets from Tom Hanks to Justin Bieber to Lady Gaga. Two hundred fifty thousand dollars a pop. And Richard Branson has said that he will have a big announcement after he

lands hopefully safely today about giving more people that opportunity to go to space. So we want to know exactly what that promise will be. I want to bring in Will White Horn now the former president of Virgin Galactic who is with us. Well obviously I imagine this is a huge moment for you. It has been a long path here. There were design changes. There were delays there there. There were some deaths along the way. Talk to us about what this means for you today and for the entire Virgin team. Well I think I left Virgin 10 years ago but I've still stayed pretty close to this project because I've ended up work in the space industry. I have my satellite company I'm shareholder and direct self which is quoted on the Swedish stock

market and we're going to be using Virgin Orbit sister company to launch satellites in the future. And then I'm also running a new space investment company called Serafin Space Investment Trust. Starts trading on the London stock market on Wednesday. We're investing in some of the companies that actually Virgin has been looking at as well. So it's a very exciting time. It's a nervous time because obviously this is difficult stuff. You know they've been debating about who's going higher but they're

both going into space. But NASA definition of space is 50 miles. You're in a vacuum when you're up there you're weightless. And things can just happen because it's space. It's not easy stuff. And I think that you know the nervousness will recede when hopefully that'll be the joy of the basically the inaugural flight of the company for the pre commercial period because obviously the next group of passengers who go off this will be the first paying passengers. And so Richard is doing what he needs to do as the boss of the company which is lead the way and take the company into its next era. But it's

taken 15 years to get galactic to this place and it's been a difficult time for them. I I I went part time to do this project for my last five years of a 25 year career there. And it was extremely difficult stuff. We were doing. We were working with carbon composite a new material for for use in space to a large extent a new type of rocket motor the feathering device that allows the reentry without the craft burning up. All of these were brand new groundbreaking technologies. And at the same time we laid the groundwork for what is now virgin orbit which to me is actually just as exciting a business. He to launch satellites from anywhere in the world in groups of up to 10 into low earth orbit. And it's going to be along with space X. What makes this industrial revolution we're about to have in

space. And so this day really heralds an industrial revolution for audience. Live on Bloomberg TV Bloomberg Radio and quick take this is our special coverage of Richard Plant Branson's flight into space. Well you talking about a new industrial revolution. Well Whitehall former Virgin Galactic president what is the conversation that we are having 15 years from now. You

said this was 15 years in the making. What's the conversation that we're having 15 years from now. What's going on in our skies. In 2018. There are about 2000 working satellites in space. Today it's about three thousand five hundred. By the end of this year it will be nearly five hours in 15 years time. They're not

going to be 100000 satellites up there but I believe we'll have all of our server farms or data centers as people call them in space. Most of our broadband from space we will have mobile phones that work anywhere in the world as satellite enabled. We'll be beaming down microwave power to receiving stations all over the planet and getting 24/7 reliable microwave solar energy from space. We were taking the heat out of the atmosphere literally. Space has to be industrialized. Eleven billion people are going to survive on this planet in 15 years time. What about the art communication. What does it mean for for actually visiting space for the normal everyday person actually being in the skies.

Well I think as a result of what Galactic is doing at the moment different to Blue Origin. The thing about the galactic system is it's the prototype to be able to travel round the planet outside the atmosphere and not use the precious atmosphere for shape taking people from one side of the planet to the other. It's the beginning of hypersonic travel. There are companies developing motors which will allow a galactic type ship in a few years time to travel at three or 4000 miles an hour around the planet.

Eight thousand kilometers an hour. And that's likely reaction engine being developed in the UK at the moment. And there'll be a huge change in investment. What people will be able to do is start investing in these space companies directly in a way they've only been able to do with a couple of sparks in America today like Virgin Galactic. Our own investment company. We raised two hundred million dollars on Friday. Hundred and fifty million pounds. And it starts trading on the London Stock Motor

on Wednesday. And we're going to be investing in a range of new start ups in space and the public are going to see that happen. So they'll be able to go because they'll be able to fly regularized in 15 years time at much lower prices. You know one of your commentators mentioned earlier about the early flights the first nonstop transatlantic flights on the Boeing 3 1 4 Clipper by Pan Am and the early British Airways in 1939 cost the equivalent of one hundred thousand dollars a ticket for the thirty five people that went on each flight. They were the space tourists of their day and. These space tours today will herald the regularization of space and an industrial revolution at every level. Now the pictures you're seeing on screen this is from Virgin Galactic. Live feed we're still waiting for the feed from the spacecraft itself to begin. We understand there are 21

different cameras onboard. So we're gonna see it from all angles. Hopefully we'll get some animation. We will get some commentary from the folks on board. Will I want to ask you about Branson's motivation his personal motivations here. Obviously he's talked about how he was inspired to do this by the Apollo mission to the moon. What do you make of the fact that that he's doing this just days before Jeff Bezos announced he would be doing the same thing on on July 20th. I know Branson has said it's not a competition that there is room for many tourism space tourism companies. Bezos has wished him well. Yet there has been

some sparring back and forth between the two companies. Well I think it's been very unfortunate because it's a simple fact which Jeff Bezos his team don't seem to understand. NASA's definition of space is 50 miles. The FAA definition of space is 50 miles. You've always got your astronaut wings when you get above 50 miles. So that's good enough for me but it's good enough for NASA and the US government. And the common line was a kind of false creation anyway in the early 60s. I remember the

famous Chuck Yeager was a friend of mine telling me that he'd been in 1960 to a conference of the Federation a bionic teak internationale in Spain when everybody agreed and the FBI did it. So that 50 miles was a definition. I'm sticking with that one. And as for competition I mean there's room for all these systems. Space X Blue Origin Virgin Orbit Virgin Galactic are heralding a lower cost access to space and that industrial revolution that I and others are going to be investing in. So we're about now 15 20 minutes into the flight as we understand it. That's the mothership. Eve carrying the VHS unity

between those two fuselage is about 50 minutes into flight. That spaceship will drop. Below the mothership and then rocket up into space. So we're expecting that to be somewhere between you know 20 30 minutes or so from now. We'll talk a little bit about the technology here because Virgin Galactic is taking a very different approach to Blue Origin which is the much more traditional looking vertical up and down rocket. And this is the result of many choices that

you and your team and Branson's team made over the years. Very innovative technology the signature feathering technology that belongs to Virgin Galactic. Talk to us about what makes that show important. Well what you have to remember about Spaceship 2 is it can be developed. This first version is piloted. There's gonna be a Spaceship 3 and a Spaceship 4 and a Spaceship 5. And they're all designed built to fly into space and use new motor technology and new ideas in the future. So the thing about the galactic system is it can really be developed. It can go higher faster. It can do more things can do more suborbital science. It

can carry A.I. robots into space in the future as well. It failed to do with the kind of satellites. So I think the differences is that Richard has developed a technology based on aerospace principles that can be developed. I'm not so sure about Lua which is I just don't know enough about it. But to me it looks like they'd have to design a completely new rocket to

do the next thing. Well Whitehorse I'm a freighter former Virgin Galactic president thank you so much for taking the time and for joining us for our special coverage for audience live on Bloomberg TV on a Bloomberg radio and watching us on Quicktake. This is our special coverage of Richard Branson's flight into space. Let's go now again to Ed Ludlow who's at Spaceport America in the New Mexico desert near Truth or Consequence. It's about 160 miles south of Albuquerque in southern New Mexico. Ed give us an update about what's been happening in the last half hour as even unity continue to make their way up to 50000 feet for that detachment of the two planes. Yes. So we just passed the 32000 feet mark. Most commercial airplanes go in a range of

30 to 40 thousand feet right. So it's gotten past that normal line. And now we're getting into high altitude territory before that release around forty five thousand fifty thousand feet. What they've been doing here on the ground is playing by messages from some of the key personnel within Virgin Galactic including another message from CEO Michael Cole Glazer. Basically just talking about how much this means to all of this stuff. You know this is only the 22nd time that the unity has conducted some sort of test mission VNS evil the technology that the MSE is based on has flown a couple of hundred almost 300 MIT test missions but not always with the SS unity attached. And you know the spirit here is one of celebration but there is some

tense feeling as well because we still have a long way to go in the mission here. Right. And it's not just Branson who's a first timer. I understand a couple of the others on board are also first timer. So a huge moment for them. And I want to talk a little bit about the business because the goal here is yes to give anyone and everyone the opportunity to go up into space but also to make money. Talk to us about the business model and what Richard Branson you imagine has planned.

Well you just asked well about the technology why use this dual system. And a lot of it is based on the economics of it. As I said it's carbon composite based very lightweight. That makes it very fuel efficient. As we know they're charging around two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. A C is a civilian astronaut a paying customer. You can get six people on boats a one point five million a pop. When Virgin Galactic did the Spock deal with China back back in 2000 1980 s fall we got a lot of detail. The cost per flight comes out at around 400 thousand five hundred thousand dollars. If you bring it in one point five million a pop you're getting very good margin on a per launch basis outside of your R and D and manufacturing costs. I so that's

what the future is that Virgin Galactic is trying to sell. They're talking about manufacturing these things cheaply here in the state of New Mexico. I actually spoke to the state's governor earlier this morning and she said that's the next phase of their negotiations making sure that the factory where both the MSA even OBSS unity will be built. We'll be here in New Mexico. And as they build more and they ramp up their activities they're doing these launches at volumes. The economic starts

make more sense although you do have to wonder how many people there out there that have 250000 dollars lying around for a mission like this for a trip like this. I certainly don't. You and me both my friend I'd love her. Joining us live from the ground at Spaceport America near truth or Consequences New Mexico head. Sit tight because we're going to be coming back to you in just a minute. Joining us now is Lisa Rich managing partner at Hemisphere Ventures. This is an early stage venture

capital firm. It's focused on frontier technology. The company is invested in 17 different space companies. Lisa it's great to see you this morning as somebody who follows the space so closely who's invested in many space companies. What are you feeling right now. Well thank you for having me today. This is a watershed moment for the space sector. I think everyone in the community is celebrating because it's opening the door for commercial business. We're seeing a transition occurring here where it's not just governments sending astronauts to space but a commercial company. And the opportunity for citizens to become astronauts. This has never happened before on U.S. soil. And now

this is the beginning. And we're watching it live. So it's it's a great day here for the space sector. Now Lisa you have talked about the space launch party experience. And as I understand it the belief is that there will be a whole space ecosystem that develops around space ports restaurants hotels people who decide they want to do this. They get to see some celebrities along the way. What's your vision for the future of that ecosystem. Thank you Emily. That's such a great question because we experienced this last week or two weeks ago at the transporter to launch Space X was hosting us. We were rescheduled for launch three times. And everyone had a wonderful time together because we all made the most of it. And you know what do you do while you're

scheduled for a launch and maybe there's a weather delay or there's some strange thing that happens. You know the second launch was cut at T minus eleven. So you never know what could happen. But obviously everyone is anticipating a launch wants to be entertained and have that time together. And there's so much that space enthusiasts want to discuss

that. It is a it is a time to build community. And I've met so many Virgin ticket holders over the years. And by the way every one of them has told me that the two hundred fifty thousand they've spent waiting has been paid for itself ten times over because of the experiences that they have shared over the years in anticipation of this becoming an event that you know everyone can go to space. So that's that's something to think about as it is the the ecosystem that's being built while you're waiting for a launch. There are there's a drive right now design firms

and industrial designers coming together to plan and build space ports so that you have this you know more than the first class lounge experience at the airport obviously. But entertainment and restaurants and dining and hotels all of that is it is a big draw for these events that will be part of our future. You're watching our special coverage of Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson's flight into space. He is onboard now with five others including two pilots and three additional crew members. Lisa you are also investing in a company called Axiom Space which is focusing on orbital flights that would take space tourists around the Earth. We should emphasize that Virgin Galactic technology Blue Origin's technology they're working on sub orbital flights that go to the edge of space or just into space and then immediately come back down. Why do you imagine

folks would want to pay for that when ultimately they could potentially pay for orbital flights like the ones you're investing in. Yeah and the or the orbital opportunity. You've seen the space X having there for inspiration plan to be orbiting in space. But what Acxiom has that's entirely unique is access to the International Space Station. So you're not just orbiting but you are docking and having a 10 day experience on the International Space Station as a citizen astronaut. So talk about the full fledged end to end experience of space flight. That's what Axiom can provide. And their first flights are happening in twenty twenty two with Commander Michael Lopez Alec Korea and as well a next flight and crew scheduled with Peggy Whitson. Astronaut Peggy Whitson. So you've got private astronauts lining up and

it's fifty five million dollars for that experience. But if you think about it the auction a week or so ago for 30 million to go with Baze us on his inaugural flight you might get you know a great experience with Axiom to spend fifty five. A little bit more money for a 10 day experience of viewing the earth from space which I think is just transformational. And every astronaut I've met has said so. It has changed their life and all of their future vision for how they're going to live their

life after they have an experience of the earth from space. Fifty five million a little more than twenty seven million for a small number of people I think. Lisa I do wonder about that. Price tag doesn't come down ever or because this is dependent on the International Space Station an entity that is is overseen by many different governments around the world. It's the

International Space Station after all. Does that does that price just continue to climb. Well well it's an excellent point because as we know the International Space Station is reaching its end of life. It is set to be decommissioned I think at this point in twenty twenty eight. So you have a space station that that will be replaced. And the company that is replacing the

space station is Axiom Space that is attaching a module to the International International Space Station and building a new space station on top of the old space station. So as they build Axiom Station we're going to have a commercial space station that has reduced costs and many new efficiencies to it. And I expect that the costs of commercials spaceflight will come down as a result of that as well. So we have a lot to look forward to in the space sector for human spaceflight.

All right Lisa Rich longtime space investor. Thanks so much for joining us today and sharing your insights. I want to get back to our Ed Ludlow who's on the ground in truth or consequences New Mexico has seen the flight take off. Ed where are we in flight. And as I understand it there are two empty seats on on the spacecraft. Why not a fully filled spacecraft given the desire of so many people to eventually get up there. Yeah we're about 30 minutes saying at the 45 minute mark. That's when we expect the SS unity to separate from VNS. Eve the dual fuselage airplane that is carrying its that high altitude of fifty thousand feet. Why only for passengers instead of six. Yes Richard Branson is onboard to test the civilian paying customer

experience but this is very much a test. Remember that the reason they were able to do this fly is because the previous tests on May 22nd yielded such good data. They immediately landed on the 22nd handed that data over to the FAA. And it was that which led to the FAA giving them the license to be able to operate taking paying civilian customers up to space. So it is a test and you know you have to control what you can. As I said those four passengers along with the two pilots had been trained

in emergency procedures. They were all parachutes on board. They'd been trained in how to use them and also other procedures in the event of an emergency. So we're just watching now for this key moment. In about ten to twelve minutes time for that separation. But as it stands there's still climbing towards that thousand feet level for audience. Live on Bloomberg TV Bloomberg

Radio and Quicktake this is our special coverage of Richard Branson flight into space. And for those who are just joining us now take us through exactly what happens in the next 12 to 15 minutes and then beyond. Yes. So the separation is the key moment. The eve is that funny looking jewel fuselage aeroplane at 50000 feet. The control room will call 3 2 1. Release release release for a brief moment. The S.S. Unity will freefall and suddenly its single rocket motor will ignite and foot. Within eight seconds it will hit supersonic speed. It's about a seventy seven 0 second burn where

it will reach a top speed of twenty six hundred miles. It's a very steep arc that it takes to apogee its highest point from the earth which is about 50 miles. It could be as much as 54 55 miles but it's within that range. And then those astronauts will experience weightlessness. They'll actually unbuckle themselves and float around in the cabin. One of them will conduct a scientific experiment. Richard Branson is there just to explain when he gets back down what it feels like. It really is in some

ways a sales exercise. Then they buckle about back up and that feathering process starts and they gently come back down to earth hopefully. Again we're watching Virgin Galactic s live feed on the left hand side here. We're waiting for the live pictures of those 21 cameras onboard to kick in which you know perhaps that will happen and when the spacecraft separates from the eve. You mentioned earlier the risks the risks that have gone into this incredible journey. There are parachutes on board. Talk to us about plan B. Plan C Plan D.

Yes there are safety mechanisms built into the design of the system. The engine on the SS unity the rocket the one of the better expression can be shut off at any time. And remember that the landing process there is no additional propulsion. It is simply aerodynamics and gravity that brings OBSS unity back down to earth. So if they did have two as faults then that's what would happen. The engine would be shut off and then slowly it would glide back down to using the arrow dynamics of the wings. The thing the difference in distinguishes distinguishing between the common line 62 miles above and 50

miles NASA. The point is yes you are in a vacuum but you're still within the pool of the earth's gravitational field. So you know all they had to do is stop your momentum and with that feathering process. The main function of the February is simply to reorient the V SS unity.

And that in itself starts that descent back down into Earth's atmosphere. I want to bring back in Chad Anderson Space Capital managing partner at Bob though that was joining us just now on the ground truth or consequences. New Mexico from Spaceport America. Sit tight Adweek. We're going to come back to you in just a few minutes. Chad what is the role the government plays

in spaceflight specifically U.S. spaceflight moving forward. Because if we think back to the traditional role this was this was something that was taken on by NASA from from governments. Just a handful of them that have been to space. But is that era over. This is a huge benefit that all these commercial activities are a huge benefit for NASA. We have been operating

in space for decades but this has really only been a category for investors over the last 10 years. And it was space X that really broke through the deadlock that the defense contractors had on this market which was very limited market. I mean on the one hand you had a handful of defense contractors and on the other hand you had the government and that was the whole market. And so the pricing was all over the place. The costs were extremely high. Everything that was built was built for a very

sophisticated government customer. And so this really limited our our capability and and the innovation that we saw in the category. But but given that investors have invested in these companies they want to see some sort of return. Does that limit the bets that these companies can take in a way that the government wouldn't have to hold back if it wants to make big bold bets. I'm thinking Mars here. No. So the government is benefiting from these new capabilities that

are coming online. I mean you had the defense contractors were getting very comfortable. Right. And innovation wasn't happening at a pace that we're seeing today. What's happened over the last 10 years is the comparison is night and day. And the government gets the benefit from that because no longer are that do they need to be the benefactor

that is funding the development of these systems that are going to take us to low earth orbit. Now those those operations which are routine and we've done plenty of times before can be handed over to private companies. They're going out and raising capital venture capital dollars and building these systems that NASA can then just be a customer of one customer of many customers in a thriving marketplace. This is is driving innovation and bringing costs down that there's been a lot of back and forth about

Branson versus base those and the competition that's happening here. This is definitely no doubt about it. This is a competition. I mean going 20 years of effort going you know eleven days apart from each other like this is a competition but it's competition. We are witnessing it. It it's driving progress and we're witnessing it right now. And so the government benefits NASA benefits and we benefit all of us get benefit from this because

what's happening now I mean the pace of innovation that's happening at some of these companies particularly with Space X and Starship Starship is going to fundamentally change the way that we operate and interact with space. The two things that have defined space to this point have been it's hard to get to. And it's expensive with star ship. Those things go away. You can carry a huge amount of capacity to to orbit and beyond. It can refuel and it can go to the moon and it can go to Mars and it can land us there. And I think Starship is going to be the vehicle that takes us to the moon takes NASA to the moon in the 20 24 type timeframe.

And you have to think about you know all all everything else that comes with that not just going to these destinations but all the other capabilities that this brings online. Chad we're just getting word from Virgin Galactic that we're about nine minutes away now from separation when the VIX unity will drop from eve and rocket up into space. Speaking of the competition the debate here is that calm in line 62 miles above sea level. That's where Jeff Bezos will be flying on July 20th. Richard Branson this flight today will be going somewhere above

50 miles above sea level. The last test flight I believe went 54 to 56 miles above the earth's surface. We don't know just exactly how far but I'll be above 50 and below 62. So that is where the debate comes in. NASA and the U.S. military define space as 50 miles above sea level and that's how Virgin Galactic likes to define it as well. I want to know a little bit more about this space eco system that you've been investing in. If this flight today is successful if blue origins fly on July 20th is successful what does that mean for the ecosystem of companies that you've been working with that are depending on progress here that are depending on these milestones being hit to get to the moon to get to Mars and beyond. I mean it's so this is all relatively new from an investor perspective. A category for investors to participate in. It's

really over the last 10 years and really over the last five years and there's been a massive amount of innovation and activity and investor interest and participation. So we've got some preliminary numbers for Q2 in and it looks like there was 10 billion dollars invested in Q2 in the space economy and almost half of that went to infrastructure companies. The launch vehicles and satellite hardware that is generating data and generating these types of experiences. And we're really you know as a seed stage investor in this category what we're really interested in is the types of applications that are going to be going to be built on top of this infrastructure. And that's really where a lot of the value for investors comes from. So we're watching that very closely. And just to give you a sense you know 10 years ago there was no

gone from literally you know basically zero investment into this category private investment into into private commercial space companies. Now there's been two hundred billion dollars invested into over fifteen hundred companies over the last 10 years. So we're really on an exponential curve here. Again there's been you know people are really starting to pay attention now because it's all sort of coming to fruition. But this is the result of you know five 10 20 years of effort. That's really all coming together at the same time. And a lot of that's being driven by more participation more competition which drives innovation and

drives progress. The spacecraft now hitting forty five thousand feet. We're hearing about five minutes away from launch currently travelling three hundred forty five miles an hour and again when that rocket drops it's going to accelerate to mark three or three times the speed of sound in a matter of eight seconds. You've been looking at video of all the folks onboard. First time for Richard Branson going into space first time for Siri. She

Bandler who was running a research project on the flight as well as Collin Bennett the lead operations engineer. Also onboard is Best Moses who's running the astronaut experience making sure everything goes well for these folks. And two pilots who I understand are career pilots NASA this sort of right stuff kind of guys. Chad talk to us about the demand. How many people do you think really want this opportunity. Certainly. It depends on costs.

Let's hope it comes below two hundred fifty thousand dollars for a ticket. But what do you imagine. You know real world folks will actually want to pay and how many of them will actually want to take this chance take this risk. As you mentioned I mean they've announced seven hundred people that are paid this price. And really interestingly they have held on throughout this entire period. Right. I mean they've some of these people have put down deposits many years ago and the majority of them are hanging on even through all the ups and downs throughout the test program. So these people really want to go. And you know

we'll have to wait until you hear what his announcement is. Maybe they've got some more numbers there. We'll have to wait and see. I'm really interested to hear and we might not. I think Blue Origin's prolly going to keep this to themselves but they have all of the data that came from their pricing option. That's going to inform what they charge. Percy And I think that that was a really interesting market survey. You know if we can get a look at that that'll tell us a lot about how many people and

what they're willing to pay. But there is certainly some price elasticity in here. And we know that you know at a higher price there's fewer people but people are willing to pay. And at a lower price there's many many more people that are willing to pay. And they're comparing this to the the high end you know luxury experiences market. And you know there's quite a bit of money there for our audience live on Bloomberg TV Bloomberg Radio. And Quicktake. This is special coverage of Richard Branson's flight to space. What you're looking at right now live pictures including of Richard Branson himself from among the 21

cameras that are onboard the spaceship. We are just under three minutes away from separation here. We will of course bring that to you live as it happens. In the meantime Chad Anderson Space Capital managing partner what does tomorrow look like if all goes according to plan for founders who are interested in space for investors that are now interested in investing in these companies. Is this that watershed moment where they're going from sort of a dream to reality. Well that's what's so exciting about what's happening right now is that used it was space used to only be for a handful of folks that had the right stuff. And today almost anyone can participate. So you can you can found your own company. You can go and raise venture capital to found your own company. There are investors putting money here. You can you can go and work

for a startup. You can invest in private companies. You can now through Arc X and other means. You can invest as a retail investor here. You can buy a ticket on Virgin Galactic. I mean soon you're going to be whether or not you've flown or not you're going to be at a party or something. You're going to bump into somebody who's been to space and they're gonna be talking about their experience. This is becoming very real on a number of different fronts.

Chad we are now about 90 seconds away from separation. I want to get back to our Ed Ludlow on the ground. Ed what is happening. What will happen in a matter of seconds. Yeah. Incredible live pictures scrolling through the cabin. The under future laws of the MSE VIX Unity we've got a glimpse of Richard Branson with less than 60 seconds ash from that separation. So a small freefall for VIX unity over the course of eight seconds to reach supersonic speed and then a 70 second burn off that hyper. It's liquid and solid fuel rocket engine taking it to a top speed of twenty six hundred miles an hour. It goes up on such a steep arc. And when it hits apogee height of 50 to 55 miles above earth then the engine shut off commences.

And the astronauts the cabin crew inside the cabin will unbuckle and experience just we believe four minutes of weightlessness before buckling themselves back up. And then that feathering process kicks in and they start. Les listening guys. We're about 20 seconds away 10 seconds from separation. Ten seconds actually. So even closer than I thought I am that rocket is going to drop. Blame the mothership. One release release release. Clean release into space. Ignition goes. Good rocket. Motor burn. There's Mach 1 trimming now. All right. There you're room complete. I was pointing directly up and heading to space. Things are looking great. We are 25 seconds into the burn now approaching mark to. Mark to two times the speed of sound you're looking at 30

seconds. Movie IBEX unity. Everything's looking really good and stay rocketing into space. It'll get to mark 3 within 8 seconds. Three times the speed of sound or about two thousand three hundred miles an hour. That is the rocket carrying Richard Branson and five other crew members to the edge of space. When they arrive they will experience several minutes of

weightlessness. Somewhere in the area of 5 the rocket will go through its feathering process changing shape in flight. For a safe reentry and everyone on board will get that spectacular view of Earth. Richard Branson says he's been waiting for all his life. Time for our special audience. Joining us live on Bloomberg TV Bloomberg Radio and Quicktake this is

coverage of Richard Branson's flight into space. We're seeing live images right now coming from almost 50 miles into space. Ultimately we'll get above 50 miles into space before it begins its feathering process to hopefully safely re-enter Earth's atmosphere continue to re-enter Earth's atmosphere and glide back down to land safely at Spaceport America. We're gonna keep watching this. In the meantime I want to bring in Phil McAllister director of the commercial spaceflight division for NASA. He advises NASA about issues pertaining to the design and development and demonstration and services of commercial spaceflight vehicles. It's hard to describe how I'm feeling right now. Just just watching this. Phil

how are you feeling. Philip. I'm very excited. This has been a long time coming. I can't believe it's been 17 years since the Ansari X Prize was won. We've all been in this community waiting anxiously for this moment. And I'm very excited. I wish I was on a flight. I have a couple of colleagues that are on there. I know Beth and Ricci and I'm sure they're just really excited right now. Have you spoken to them in the recent days ahead of this. I haven't spoken to them about this flight. Specifically no. What do you think. Go ahead. Go ahead Emily. Well Phil I just want to jump in. The rocket has officially. Rocketed into space past that 50 mile mark above sea level. That

of course is the definition of space by NASA by the U.S. military and of course Virgin Galactic. Now what's going to happen is this feathering process where the aircraft will essentially rotate its wings and its tail booms upwards. This will stabilize it and prepare it to decelerate and descend back to earth. And that entire descent will be controlled by aerodynamic forces. This is the signature part of Virgin Galactic technology. I want to get to our Ed Ludlow who's on the

ground. He is very deep in the weeds on the technical details of it and what makes it so extraordinary. And now you're seeing you're seeing a lot of pictures. All of the crew in space someone was floating there was a little pixilated but I believe it looks like they're having a really good time. Ed look at what's happening right now. It's just incredible. In that same moment you noticed to the whole crowd here cheered. It's astonishing. Just the concepts of

a live feed from that cabin back down to earth. And what you get in real time is astonishing. But as you said the February technology is so key. What the S.S. Unity does is it takes the best characteristics of the two legacy space vessels the capsule and the wings vessels like the shuttle. And as you said the wings rotate 60 degrees exposing the underbelly of the unity. That's the capsule side of it. It allows the S.S. Unity to slow down very quickly. That spreads the heat in an even way over that flat belly which is beneficial and energy efficient. Then when it enters Earth's atmosphere and it's slowed down to an

appropriate speed the air gets thicker than it makes sense to put the wings back down. And as I've said previously there's no propulsion assisting it with its landing. It's simply aerodynamics. It's lightweight carbon composite that SS unity is made from. And it's just efficient and it glides straight back to where it took off took off from earlier today. It took off south to north here at Spaceport America in New Mexico. And of course all signs are good. We're hoping for a safe landing in

the same spot as it continues its way back to earth surface. Take us through what happens how it lands. And also have you heard any sonic booms on the ground there given that this is a craft that surpass the speed of sound several times over. No I haven't. I'll be honest I haven't. If you saw me jump out of my chair in the control room rule going we'll see you doing this because above my head you can see the jet trail. So you guys are seeing it on the life feed. I've got the life feed over my shoulder. But if you look up there's just an astonishing jet trails over my head. From what. Just after that point of separation with the SS unity these two pilots in the cockpit at the SS unity. And as I said once the feathering process is done

and the wings are unfolded and become a sort of natural flat position. It's like flying a glider. That's all it is using aerodynamics. It's already slowed down to an appropriate speed for the exposure of that belly through the feathering process. And simply that's why they're able to land it in such a specific spot. Save vs. the capsule that Jeff Bezos will give him which relies on a parachute and his subjects of wind. Of course you just steer and land on the runway. But we're not quite there yet because there's time to go. I would say it's still very energetic 10 guys and we can hear the cheers behind you. We're

about six minutes into the separation at the astronauts. I guess we can call them astronauts. Now commercial astronauts are back in their seats. So weightlessness has been experienced and it's over and it's time to come back down. The feathering process has happened there. They are all buckled up. They look good. And the unity is now officially a glider heading back down to earth. And talk to us about what's happening now what the feeling is inside. Do you experience a different sort of stomach churning on your way back to Earth. Oh look there's Richard Branson grabbing someone's foot. I think

that's Colin Bennett. He was shaking his foot like kind of like a handshake or a high five. But in space. Yeah. Out of affection Robyn. Now of Tara. But I would say you know every space launch has risks even those that don't carry humans payload. That's why the FAA regulates this so closely. That's why the May 20 second test was so key because as soon as they landed they had to hand

over that big tranche of data to the FAA. And that's what led to them getting the license approval. That's what made today possible. I did manage to chat to a few Virgin Galactic people. Of course they were nervous of course. There is an element of risk. But as Code Glaser said as some of our previous guests said the whole point of Richard Branson going up there. Yes of

course he has a passion in space but apparently it's about leading the way you know. And if there's one way to put not just your money where your mouth is but your self you your and your money is all. However

2021-07-19 16:29

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