back to article Virgin Galactic to save planet from climate change

One trouble with conducting global atmospheric research is the distinct lack of flashy suborbital rocketplanes available. Fortunately, the tender heart of space tourism venture Virgin Galactic is easily wrung by such complications. The company said today it plans to join up with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric …

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Great, immediate challenges?

"To my mind there is no greater or more immediate challenge than that posed by climate change"

*cough* banking crisis *cough*

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Coat

oh the irony

carrying climate change instruments about a machine that will just serve to burn more fossil fuels so pillocks can have x seconds of weightlessnes? (where their wallets can fly about in 0 concern for the environment)

i've just developed a bullet where every one fired contributes $0.10 to a conference on how we stop conflict...

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Happy

RE: Great, immediate challenges?

*cough* Beardy Twat Face's ego *cough*

Can't we just lob Richard Branston and Charles Simonyi into space and leave them up there in a small capsule for the Chinese to use as target practice for their laser toting uber satellites? Surely the reduction in hot air would assist in global warming more directly than flying a few instruments for NOAA. We might also point out that the CIA and NSA are still flying some rather impressive black spy planes on a regular basis that fly higher than this but clearly they are too intent on dominating the planet to realise that there won't be one left to rule...

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DGR

Units?

Check your units fellas. The quoted altitudes for NASA aircraft seems verrrry low. A piston engined light aircraft can get to 25,000' plus, the average business jet to 41,000' plus, specialist high altitude jets to 60,000' plus.

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Black Helicopters

So the NOAA are stuck with Cessnas or the like?

"Current research aircraft available to the NOAA are limited to an altitude of about 25,000ft (7,600m)."

Considering that the cruising altitude of a Boeing 747 (yes, the old '70s Jumbos) is well above 30,000 ft and they have a rated ceiling of around 45,000 this seems a little low. A friend of mine who owns a Cessna tells me that the rated ceiling altitude for these aircraft is around 18,000 ft, but he's flown his at 23,000 ft with no problems. Are the budget restrictions on the NOAA's research so restrictive that they can only afford Cessna-style planes for their climate-change research operations? Or can't they even afford to have their equipment placed on jet airliners operated by commonplace commercial airlines?

Black Heli because it looks like the NOAA needs to get a few...

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Banking crisis? What banking crisis?

Strangely, the banking crisis doesn't affect most of the world's population, as they are too poor to get involved with banks. However, the effects of climate change, whether it is global warming, global cooling or simply a bit of climactic musical chairs, affects everybody, particularly the third world but also the rest of us. We all have to eat and climate change is a threat to food supplies and drinking water. So sod the banks!

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Yes classic corporate rubbish here...

....the thing hasn't even flown yet and they are heaping on the stuff it will be able to do. How about getting one to fly THEN bolting bits on.

Also I still don't think there is much milage in sub-orbital space trips. Its kind of like "Welcome to nearly space, it's almost as good as the real thing". And until somebody has done it properly they should all stop talking about it, after all it may end up like the flying car!

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Flame

But ...

.. what if the climate change is mostly part of the planets natural process?

The climate has ALWAYS changed, it always will. Humans and other life forms adapt to it (or die out).

What makes anyone think that mis-spending billions of dollars / pounds (whatever) and massive resources will make a great deal of difference.

Perhaps Canutes lesson needs to be learned on a planetary scale....

"King Canute is reputed to have had his throne placed on the beach so he could sit and command the tide not to come in. It did, of course"

It seems to me that there are a whole load of Canutes out there but without his wisdom (I believe he was trying to demonstrate his lack of power rather than being stupidly arrogant enough to believe he could prevent the tide coming in).

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Coat

@George

No, we shouldn't. We should keep hyping it up until it works. Keep the investors interested in the potential profit from when it works- that's the only way of getting space travel affordable.

Okay, it's not exactly a proper "spaceship" as weilded by so many Sci-Fi comics and shows (no exotic matter drives or particle weapons- yet), but when people get a taste of it they'll want to go higher and higher- so the market will force the creation of affordable, re-useable orbital and extra-orbital craft.

So keep the public interested- hence keeping the investors interested. You'll drive the price down and the tech-level up- It's how the market is supposed to work. Wouldn't you take a trip into space for a couple of hundred quid?

As for "To my mind there is no greater or more immediate challenge than that posed by climate change", I can think of a good few other problems that outrank "your feet will get wet if you forget to wear wellies 20 years from now". For example, Vista not being as good as it could be or that I'm almost out of soap at home.

Climate change is important to monitor as it's a real effect. No arguments from me here. It's just not hugely pressing or a problem requiring immensely high-tech solutions. The Victorians could have- and in fact did- survive periods of climate change. The Thames froze over well enough to allow markets, for crying out loud!

Come to think of it, where did the extra water go then? Surely the water level would have receded greatly during such a period?

It's the thoroughly unneccesary life-jacket.

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Branson gets my vote

Branson gets my vote, he does a lot of good things and at least someone is doing good and not insisiting on money for it

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Pirate

RE: Branson gets my vote

Really? Have you ever met the man?

As for the doing good without insisting on money for it there is a simple corporate equation at work here, if (cost of carrying instruments < cost of advertising to generate the same level of publicity) then {done deal}.

The Virgin publicity machine is very very good at pretending that Virgin is in some way more ethical than any other money grubbing, brand obsessed corporate, please don't fall for it. Don't get me wrong, they are no axis of evil like Murdoch, RIAA or Exxon Mobil but they are still a corporate with no conceivable interest in their staff or the general population.

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I'm with Spang on this one

Branson is paying lip service to the threat of global warming, carrying a few instruments so he can deflect criticism for the elephant in the room, which is the massive per person energy consumption of his service. Unless I'm missing something here, one person flying on Virgin Galactic is going to burn about as much fossil fuel as we each would burn over our entire lifetimes, or at least several decades.

Oh well, I'm sure he'll plant some trees.

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Alien

[Insert title anywhere but here]

If we really wanted to make space tourism a reality, we'd launch a space station is GSO and fling people up to it in groups of twenty. The vehicle in question would obviously be able to land without power(space DC-9, anyone?).

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Branson gets my vote

Not one company is sucessful without stepping on some toes, exagerating the good things and spining the bad things, Branson is no different, but whether you're cynical about the spin or not, he does do some good and also inspires other people to do good, which is more than you can ask of someone in his position.

So yes, he gets my vote (and yes I have met him, more than once).

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