Virgin Galactic: Unity rocket ship moves to operational base – BBC News

Virgin Galactic: Unity rocket ship moves to operational base

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Sir Richard Branson has moved his rocket plane from its development base in California to what will be its operational centre in New Mexico.

The transfer of the Unity vehicle and its mothership, Eve, to the Spaceport America complex signals the start of final testing.

Sir Richard’s Virgin Galactic company is now close to beginning commercial service.

More than 600 individuals have paid deposits to ride Unity to over 80km.

The trip will enable them to experience a few minutes of weightlessness around the top of the rocket ship’s climb.

  • Virgin’s Unity plane rockets skyward
  • Spaceship ignites engine in flight
  • ‘Inspiring’ book taken on Scots space mission

Image copyright & Trumbull Studios Image caption Unity powers to around 90km above the surface of the Earth

Already almost 100 Virgin Galactic staff have moved to the southern New Mexico spaceport to prepare it – and themselves – for operations.

Image copyright Virgin Galactic 2018 Image caption Ultimately, Sir Richard himself will take a trip to the edge of space

Unity will now perform a series of test flights above the desert.

Some of these will see it dropped from altitude to simply glide back to the runway. Others will involve firing its rocket motor to power skyward.

Ultimately, Sir Richard himself will get aboard for a trip to the edge of space.

Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides described the move to New Mexico as a “huge moment” for the company.

“It’s the culmination of a tonne of work by a lot of people to prepare the way to get the spaceport ready, to get the ships ready,” he said.

“And it really positions us in an exciting way to move through the final phase of our test-flight programme.”

Unity will open the commercial spaceflight service, but two more rocket planes are in production in California and will also move to Spaceport America when they are compete.

Sir Richard’s other space project – a satellite-carrying rocket launched from under the wing of a repurposed Virgin Atlantic jumbo – is also close to entering service.

The satellite launcher concept was once part of the Galactic business but was then hived off into its own concern called Virgin Orbit.

The UK government is hopeful Sir Richard will want to operate his space companies in his home country at some point, in addition to the US.

Newquay Airport in Cornwall has been proposed as a British operational hub.

Image copyright Virgin Galactic 2020 Image caption Two more rocket planes will follow Unity and Eve to New Mexico

Virgin Galactic reports high interest in its future space flights

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Associated Press

Virgin Galactic reports high interest in its future space flights

Associated Press

Nearly 8,000 online reservations; initial seats sold for $250,000 apiece

Sir Richard Branson poses on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange ahead of Virgin Galactic’s IPO in October.

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LOS ANGELES — Virgin Galactic has received nearly 8,000 online reservations of interest since its first successful test flight into space 14 months ago, the company said Tuesday as it nears commercial operation and prepares to reopen ticket sales.

Virgin Galactic SPCE, -1.23% already had more than 600 firm reservations that were taken from customers in 60 countries until the December 2018 flight, when it closed down ticket sales.

The company said that on Wednesday it will begin a process called “One Small Step” that will allow those online registrants who are serious about becoming passenger astronauts to register online for a firm reservation by paying a fully refundable deposit of $1,000.

Confirming a spaceflight reservation will be a process called “One Giant Leap,” echoing the words of Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong when he became the first person to set foot on the moon in 1969.

The company did not say when the new set of seats would be released or the actual cost. The initial seats were sold at $250,000 apiece.

After years of development and testing at Mojave Air & Space Port in Mojave, California, Virgin Galactic has been moving toward starting actual operations at Spaceport America in southern New Mexico — although it has not set a date.

A special carrier aircraft recently ferried its spaceship, VSS Unity, from California to New Mexico and said construction of the next two spacecraft is well underway.

Virgin Galactic is offering suborbital flights to an altitude of at least 50 miles, where passengers will see a vast swath of the Earth far below and experience a few minutes of weightlessness before the spacecraft glides to a landing.

The current 7,957 online registrations are more than double the number the number the company last reported in September 2019.

Stephen Attenborough, the company’s commercial director, said in a statement that the increasing demand for personal spaceflight was encouraging.

“One Small Step allows us to help qualify and build confidence in our direct sales pipeline, as well as to ensure that those who are most keen to make reservations, are able to do so at the earliest opportunity,” he said.

Virgin Galactic was founded by British billionaire Richard Branson after the historic 2004 flights of the experimental SpaceShipOne, which was funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and won the $10 million Ansari X Prize as the first privately developed, manned rocket to reach space.

Virgin Galactic’s six-passenger spacecraft is a type called SpaceShipTwo. A carrier aircraft carries it to high altitude and releases it before its rocket engine ignites.

The company is now formally named Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. and went public on the New York Stock Exchange in October. The fleet is being manufactured by The Spaceship Company, a wholly owned subsidiary.

Virgin Galactic Reports High Interest in Space Flights

Virgin Galactic Reports High Interest in Space Flights

Virgin Galactic Reports High Interest in Space Flights

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The spaceflight company Virgin Galactic has received nearly 8,000 online reservations of interest since its first successful test flight 14 months ago.

The company reported this week on the number of people reserving seats for future space flights as it nears commercial operation and prepares to reopen ticket sales.

Virgin Galactic already had more than 600 confirmed reservations, from people in 60 countries, before the December 2018 test flight. It then suspended ticket sales.

On Wednesday the company announced that it will begin a process called “One Small Step.” It is for those online registrants who are serious about becoming passenger astronauts. They are now required to pay $1,000 toward the cost of their flight. Virgin Galactic says they will get the money back if they change their minds.

Confirming a spaceflight reservation will be a process called “One Giant Leap.” Those are the words American astronaut Neil Armstrong said when he became the first person to set foot on the moon in 1969.

Virgin Galactic did not say when the new set of seats would be released or the actual cost. The company set the cost of the first set of seats at $250,000 each.

Virgin Galactic spent years developing and testing its space flight technology at Mojave Air & Space Port in Mojave, California. Now it is moving toward starting actual operations at Spaceport America in southern New Mexico. A start date has yet to be set, however.

A special carrier aircraft recently transported the company’s spaceship, VSS Unity, from California to New Mexico. The company has already started building two other spacecraft.

Virgin Galactic is offering flights just outside Earth’s atmosphere, as high as 80.5 kilometers up in space. There, passengers will see large parts of the planet’s surface and experience a few minutes of weightlessness before the spacecraft returns to Earth.

The current number of online registrations is more than double the number Virgin Galactic last reported in September 2019.

Stephen Attenborough is the company’s commercial director. He said in a statement that the increasing demand for personal spaceflight was a good sign.

British billionaire Richard Branson created Virgin Galactic after the historic 2004 flights of the experimental SpaceShipOne. Money for that spacecraft came from Paul Allen, a co-creator of the Microsoft Corporation. SpaceShipOne won the Ansari X Prize, worth $10 million, as the first privately developed, manned rocket to reach space.

Virgin Galactic’s six-passenger spacecraft is called SpaceShipTwo. A carrier aircraft carries it high into the atmosphere and releases it before its rocket engine fires.

John Antczak reported this story for the Associated Press. Pete Musto adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

Words in This Story

reservation(s) – n. an agreement to have something, such as a room, table, or seat held for your use at a later time

commercialadj. related to or used in the buying and selling of goods and services

ticketn. a piece of paper that permits you to see a show, take part in an event, or travel on a vehicle

billionairen. a rich person who has at least a billion dollars

Virgin Galactic Space Flight, Richard Branson Space Company

Richard Branson’s Plans for Space Tourism Sure Are Aggressive

Move aside, Musk. Within four years, the Virgin honcho wants to send people to space every 32 hours.

  • Virgin Galactic is getting real in its plans for space tourism.
  • A document filed by the company’s minority owners details its aggressive plans for the next several years, beginning with test flights in 2020.
  • By 2023, if Virgin Galactic and others have their way, space tourism will have reached a level of normalcy (at least for those who can afford it.)

The launch into commercial space travel will be an aggressive one, if Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic gets its way. Within a document published by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the company describes a plan with crewed test flights starting in 2020 and sending 1,500 tourists into space every year by 2023.

The document was an SEC filing by Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings (SCHH), 49 percent owners of Virgin Galactic. Without much fanfare, Virgin Galactic has gone public on the New York Stock Exchange as a subsidiary of SCHH, a special purpose acquisition company run by former Facebook employees.

The filing describes a clear plan for Virgin Galactic: tickets going for $250,000 each, promising several minutes of weightlessness and views of the curvature of Earth. Virgin Galactic will take customers 50 miles above Earth’s surface, at which point both NASA and Air Force pilots get their astronaut wings.

The filing describes a “universal fascination with human spaceflight” and notes that among the millionaire set Virgin Galactic is targeting, out-of-home experiences are often a priority beyond luxury goods or amenities.

However, where Virgin Galatic is taking its passengers is not a universally agreed upon definition of space. There’s also the Kármán line, or 100 km (about 62 miles) into space. That’s the Earth-space separation point for the Fédération aéronautique internationale (FAI), which maintains aeronautical and astronomical records.

Kármán line debate aside, SCHH says that almost 700 people have signed up for rides in a SpaceShipTwo spacecraft, which require two pilots and can hold six passengers. The company hopes to start with 16 flights in 2020, bumped up to 270 flights a year by 2023. At that point, Virgin Galactic hopes it will have a full fleet of five SS2 spacecraft, as opposed to the two spacecraft (VSS Enterprise and VSS Unity) it does now. Each Virgin Galactic spacecraft also requires a quadjet cargo airplane for launching.

Along with fellow billionaires Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, Branson hopes to launch a new era of space tourism. It appears that the potential business model is coming into focus.

Virgin Galactic Space Plane Preps for Space Tourism Flights, Digital Trends

Space tourism: Watch Virgin Galactic’s space plane arrive at new base

For the very wealthy, tourist trips to space should soon become a new way to blow a large chunk of change.

While outfits such as SpaceX and Blue Origin tend to get the most column inches regarding proposed space tourism services, Virgin Galactic has also been busy working on its own system to give paying customers the ride of a lifetime.

With a view to launching its first space tourism flight as early as June 2020, Virgin Galactic has just relocated its SpaceShipTwo passenger craft, VSS Unity, to its commercial headquarters at Spaceport America in New Mexico.

VMS Eve, the aircraft that will carry Unity on the first part of its journey toward space during the tourism trips, flew the passenger craft from Mojave, California, home to the company’s manufacturing facilities.

Watch SpaceShipTwo Unity and our mothership, VMS Eve, land at the Gateway to Space, Spaceport America, New Mexico and complete another vital step on the path to commercial service. Read about the next steps for Unity’s flight test program here.

Virgin Galactic said the three-hour flight gave it the chance to evaluate VSS Unity at high altitude and cold temperatures, as well as a chance to carry out more pilot training.

The team has been working on its space tourism project since 2004, though the endeavor suffered a serious blow in 2014 when the VSS Enterprise space plane crashed during a test flight, killing one of the two pilots. After a period of review and reflection, Virgin Galactic returned in 2016 with the new VSS Unity aircraft before making the first of several successful test flights to the edge of space in 2018.

A seat on the space plane for the 90-minute trip will set you back an eye-watering $250,000. The experience will include being carried high in the sky by the carrier plane before Unity’s rocket engines fire up to take you toward the generally agreed boundary of where space begins, around 62 miles up. Besides the breathtaking views, you’ll also experience a brief period of weightlessness before returning to Earth for a runway landing.

In time, Virgin Galactic says it wants to operate a range of vehicles from multiple locations to cater to the demands of the growing space-user community, including “transporting passengers to Earth-orbiting hotels and science laboratories or providing a world-shrinking, transcontinental service.”

Final stages of preparation

The relocation of VSS Unity to Spaceport America means the 100-strong team can now begin work on the final stages of its flight test program, starting with a number of captive carry and glide flights from the new operating base.

After that, the team will move on to rocket-powered test flights from Spaceport America to confirm VSS Unity’s readiness for its first commercial spaceflight operations.

As we mentioned at the top, Virgin Galactic isn’t the only company looking to launch space tourism flights in the near future. Blue Origin, owned by Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, is developing a reusable rocket system for the same purpose, with one of its test flights last year giving future passengers an idea of what to expect from its 10-minute space ride. Meanwhile, Elon Musk’s SpaceX also has a plan to send a Japanese billionaire and eight artists on a trip to the moon and back, possibly in 2023.

Will Virgin Galactic Space Flights Take Off Soon?

Will Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Space Flights Take Off Soon?

We went to middle-of-nowhere New Mexico to find out

There’s a lot of nothing in New Mexico. As one of the least populated states in America, the arid landscape offers countless miles of rock- and scrub-lined highways stretching between sporadic, lonely rest stops. Away from Santa Fe, there doesn’t seem to be a town big enough to change its own future, let alone the future of the world.

Still, if you head about 25 miles south of Truth or Consequences (yes, real town name), you’ll come across a vast stretch of fenced-in concrete and tarmac laid out around a hub of sprawling, modern buildings. You’ve discovered Spaceport America, the country’s first private launch facility for orbital tourism and the operational headquarters for Virgin Galactic.

There’s a lot of nothing in New Mexico (John Lewinski)

After years of investment, engineering and construction, the Virgin Galactic space tourism service appears set to send its first customers (and owner Richard Branson) into the stars this year. In the meantime, the company is hard at work building an elite, exclusive community among aspiring astronauts able to pay the $250,000 roundtrip ticket. (The one-way trips seem more popular with cremated customers so far.)

More than 600 would-be Buzz Aldrin(s) paid the $50,000 deposit to snag their seats before Virgin put a hold on sales. They’ll float over the remaining $200K before T-minus-zero takes them skyward.

Clare Pelly, Head of the Virgin Galactic Astronaut Office, is in charge of keeping those 600+ planetary pioneers engaged, organized and entertained as the company completes its final round of test flights over the great American southwest. She says it was Branson’s idea to build this astronaut community to test the waters and see how willing people were to get onboard the space train.

“The response was overwhelming,” Pelly tells InsideHook. “There are more than 60 nations represented, led by the U.S., the UK, Australia, Canada and Russia. Many of the customers never thought they’d have the chance to fly into space, and they get that opportunity through us.”

“Then, there are the people who have done everything. They’ve climbed Everest. They’ve been pole to pole, and this is just the ultimate addition to their bucket list.”

After making test flights for the last five years, Virgin Galactic recently completed the most advanced version of its Space Plane. Resembling a mix of a Gulfstream jet and a trimmed-down space shuttle, the craft will carry six tourists per flight above the atmosphere. Those happy few will experience total weightlessness and view the globe from above as the craft turns over to allow a full view through the roof viewing port.

The eventual plan is to fire up a new flight daily as long as demand maintains escape velocity. There’s no official word yet if such a successful, ongoing and regular service will generate enough revenue to bring that 250-large down a tick or two.

For now, Virgin Galactic is prepping for about 100 flights to get its current eager ticket holders off the ground. It’s the job of Beth Moses, Chief Astronaut Instructor, to get all of those passengers educated, trained and prepped for short term space travel.

“The process starts several months before the passengers’ flight,” Moses says. “Leading right up to your flight, you would travel to New Mexico for a week. Sunday, we’d do final fittings on your Under Armour space suit. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday would be solid training days, with your flight coming that week.”

Six months before all of that begins in the desert, Pelly’s Astronaut Office steps in to get your suit measurements and other physical details for your bespoke seat, to research your expectations and goals for your flight and to introduce you to the larger space-tourist community.

Training falls to Moses, as a former NASA Assembly Manager and the first woman to reach space on a commercial flight. She’s been directly involved in the design and engineering of the passenger experience from early in the Virgin Galactic story — serving as the Cabin Test Lead.

As the engineers produce each new version of the Space Plane, she works with the evaluating and development program to make sure this expensive journey to the stars offers up maximum comfort and safety. A glimpse inside that cabin reveals seats for two pilots and six tourists. Those six guest spots offer a clear view to the left and right, as well as overhead — the ship’s “sunroof” will get you closer to said sun than the roof of any hatchback will. The entire “space” stretch of the journey lasts less than 15 minutes, with the total flight time stretching just over an hour.

“During takeoff and into the flight, the experience is very much like standard air travel,” Moses claims. “But, when in space, you get to unbuckle and float around and have fun. From the customer perspective, that difference is huge.”

Once in that made-to-order seat, every passenger’s successful adventure is in the hands of David Mackay, Virgin Galactic’s Chief Pilot. A veteran of the Royal Air Force and a longtime captain in the more atmosphere-bound Virgin Atlantic fleet, Mackay served as a test pilot for world famous aircraft like the Harrier jump-jet before receiving the Air Force Cross in 1992.

“We go officially into space — about 50 miles above the Earth, the NASA-accepted definition,” Mackay explains. “The challenge of this flight is that, while the plane is still in the atmosphere, it flies as a regular aircraft would. Once it leaves the atmosphere, you’re on a ballistic flight path. That’s predetermined by the way you leave the atmosphere.”

The Scotsman commands a team of six space pilots — all of whom serve as test crew during the Virgin Galactic development stages. During his successful first complete test flight, Mackay became the first Scot in space.

A propeller-powered mothership carries the Space Plane up to a cruising altitude above Spaceport America before Mackay’s craft detaches and activates its onboard booster rocket. While a controlled burn tears through enough fuel to get the craft out of the atmosphere’s upper levels. Mackay positions the vehicle for the passengers’ experience of zero gravity and the best possible views.

“We can’t change the flight path of the vehicle, but you can change the vehicle’s attitude. We can orientate it to optimize the flight path. We believe the best option is to invert the vehicle at apogee. We also reenter the atmosphere in an inverted position, so passengers get a chance to see the Earth rushing back toward them.”

(John Lewinski)

After the space plane escaped the surly bonds of Earth long enough to give its passengers a taste of the void, it’s up to Mackay to get all souls on board back to the dirt. He describes the ship behaving like a badminton birdie at this point, adjusting its tail into a feather position to stabilize its descent.

At this point, the space plane will have burned out its rocket engine (its only onboard propellent) several minutes ago. Once out of its shuttlecock formation, the aircraft becomes “dead stick,” gliding outside the bounds of terminal velocity thanks to physics and Mackay’s piloting skills. The only thing left after that is touchdown, along an extensive runway back in the New Mexico desert.

Virgin Atlantic just completed construction of its third space plane vehicle, certifying it “weight on wheels,” or able to hold its total structural integrity. Within the coming year, the world will learn if a space tourism effort can maintain its own “weight on wheels” by sending civilian space travelers skyward every single day.

Virgin Galactic Stock Is a Bet on the Future of Space Travel

Virgin Galactic Stock Is a Bet on the Future of Space Travel. How Much Is That Worth?

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceshipTwo.

The stock of space-tourism and technology company Virgin Galactic is on an epic tear, leaving some value investors scratching their heads. Why is a company with, essentially, no sales worth billions? That question misses the point. Virgin Galactic has ambitions to become more than a space-tourism operator. It wants to bring hypersonic flight to the masses.

Start with the epic stock run. Shares have gained about 190% year to date and up more than 360% over the past three months, crushing the comparable returns of the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average. What’s more, Virgin Galactic (ticker: SPCE) warrants —issued by the company giving investors the right to buy a share for $11.50—are up more than 520% year to date and 1,370% over the past three months.

Investors must be really excited about space tourism. Galactic plans to take thrill-seekers up to the edge of space and back for about $250,000 per trip. The company said it has received more than 8,000 inquiries about its flights when it reported fourth-quarter numbers–its first quarterly report as a publicly traded company–Tuesday evening. Inquiries grew more than 100% since the end of 2019. A lot of people want to experience weightlessness.

That’s not all Virgin Galactic wants to be known for. “There is demand for higher speed flight,” Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides tells Barron’s. Whitesides is qualified to talk about high-speed flight. He’s was the chief of staff at NASA and a fellow at the U.K. Royal Aeronautical Society as well as a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. What’s more, he’s a pilot certified parabolic flight coach.

(Investors shouldn’t feel sheepish if they don’t know what a parabolic flight coach does. Those are flights designed to simulate zero-gravity, or weightlessness. Barron’s had to look it up too.)

“We’ve been stuck at Mach 0.85 for a generation,” adds Whitesides. Mach is the engineering term for the speed of sound, about 767 miles per hour. Travelers once had higher speeds available to them via the iconic Concord jet. It cruised at more than 1,300 miles per hour, making it a supersonic flight. Hypersonic speeds are above Mach 5, more than 3,000 miles per hour.

“At those speeds, you need a hybrid engine,” explains Whitesides. In this case, he’s talking about combining turbine jet engines, which have, essentially, spinning parts, with ramjet engines, that use the forward motion of the plane to compress the air. It’s technically complex and one reason hypersonic travel is expensive.

But there are pockets of hypersonic development. Militaries around the globe are investing in hypersonic technology. That could be a source of business for Galactic, although there are no firm plans yet. And Galactic’s hypersonic technology could take a Tesla-like (TSLA) approach to the market, targeting high-net-worth individuals interested in higher speed flight. There is, after all, an existing market for multi-million dollar private jets.

Tesla initially sold $100,000-plus vehicles to rich automobile owners. The company has been cutting the costs of its models over time, and now offers some base models for less than $40,000.

None of the hypersonic sales in the future are assured. Hypersonic private jets aren’t on the near-term horizon, and Whitesides didn’t discuss how much a hypersonic jet program would cost to develop. But even commercial aerospace giant Boeing (BA) is interested in the technology. It has invested $20 million in Virgin Galactic. Galactic, while it remains an early-stage, pre-revenue company, has $480 million of cash on its balance sheet.

“Our work with Virgin Galactic, and others, will help unlock the future of space travel and high-speed mobility,” said Brian Schettler, senior managing director of Boeing HorizonX Ventures, in an earlier statement that Boeing referred Barron’s to.

Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology by Stan Goldstein

Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology

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Back in July 2011, after only a brief amount of hesitation I bought at BMV on Bloor West in downtown Toronto, a copy of Spaceflight Chronology , written by Stan and Fred Goldstein and illustrated by Rick Sternbach. I was really lucky: The book may have been printed back in 1980, but not only I was able to find a good copy, but I was able to find a cheap one, too! (A side note: I’d never have come across it if not for a physical bookstore where I could actually browse for books. Physical Back in July 2011, after only a brief amount of hesitation I bought at BMV on Bloor West in downtown Toronto, a copy of Spaceflight Chronology , written by Stan and Fred Goldstein and illustrated by Rick Sternbach. I was really lucky: The book may have been printed back in 1980, but not only I was able to find a good copy, but I was able to find a cheap one, too! (A side note: I’d never have come across it if not for a physical bookstore where I could actually browse for books. Physical bookstores matter.) *

The Spaceflight Chronology is a good read. Between its detailed and engrossing chronology–progress always happens, people learn, technologies advance, frontiers retreat–and the very high quality of Rick Sternbach ‘s colour and sketch illustrations, both colour and sketch, I’d say it bears comparison with the classic Terran Trade Authority series.

This book is very much a product of its time, as the Spaceflight Chronology is now a double alternate history. Star Trek itself is an alternate history, describing a world and a universe that is fundamentally different from our own, but more, the Spaceflight Chronology recounts a version of Star Trek radically different from the canon that has been developed since its publication. In the Spaceflight Chronology, for instance, the Eugenics Wars of the 1990s was Earth’s final conflict, following which space travel and colonization flourished along with Earth’s unification, with an aggressive blue-algae-driven terraforming of Venus succeeding by the mid-21st century even as the Moon and Mars were colonized, and the first STL ships sent to Earth’ neighbours entirely independently of any other civilization. In the current Star Trek universe, Earth continued to struggle through its geopolitical turmoil, seeing space travel and space colonization develop at a rather slower rate than above, finally suffering a global nuclear war before Cochrane’s development of warp drive led to a rather necessary Vulcan protectorate and, ultimately, to the emergence of Earth as an autonomous power in the galaxy. **

Why these differences? The Spaceflight Chronology was published at a time when all there was to Star Trek were the three seasons of the original series from the 1960s, the 22 episodes of the animated series from the early 1970s, and, just barely, the first Star Trek movie from 1979. There really wasn’t much canon at all for fans of the show. The Spaceflight Chronology ended up playing a major role in providing a broader depiction of the Star Trek universe for fans, its timeline and details inspiring both the FASA Star Trek roleplaying game and the 1980s Pocket Books novel continuity . Roddenberry began to enforce his copyright against these non-canonical perspectives on his universe in the late 1980s, stripping the RPG license from FASA, putting editors in place to make sure that the novels could never come close to challenging his writ, and–of course–producing Star Trek: The Next Generation with its own backstory. Only isolated elements from this earlier continuity have survived to the present, even in the more liberal realm of the novels. It’s still fun to read this, the fount of so much Trek.

The Spaceflight Chronology is also a sterling example of the science fiction of its time, a carefully-detailed and charted history of humanity’s expansion into the universe. Solar power satellites cheaply provide the abundant energy needed for the betterment of life on Earth; the space shuttle provides rapid and efficient access to space and is itself but the precursor to still easier travel; multiple O’Neill cylinders occupy the LaGrange points of cislunar space while a Mars base was founded last year; Venus is successfully terraformed within a century via Sagan’s blue-green algae and imported water from comets; and, with increasing confidence, humanity reaches out to neighbouring stars and makes there not only new homes but new friends. Space travel can be easy, space colonization even easier, and the universe is a potentially warm, friendly, and comprehensible place. I really have to give props to everyone involved in this book for making it work so well.

** (Being even more geekier beyond these details of the past, the near-Sol environments differ markedly. In the Spaceflight Chronology, Earth’s first contact is made at Alpha Centauri in 2048, when the UNSS Icarus happens upon the astonishingly very-nearly-human Alpha Centauran civilization, opening up a productive relationship that sees the Centauran Zefram Cochrane start a joint Earth-Centauri program leading to the development of warp drive. The discovery of a damaged Vulcan scout craft in Sol system by the UNSS Amity and the return of its crew to the Vulcan homeworld in the Epsilon Eridani system follows, with contact made in 2073 with the Tellarites and at an undetermined point with the Andorians. By the end of the 21st century, these five states and Rigel have bounded together to form the United Federation of Planets. By the time of V’Ger’s visit just after the beginning of the 23rd century, the Federation is a thriving culture set to develop rapid intergalactic travel, ubiquitous psionic skill sets in anyone so interested, and the ability to move planets about. In the actual Star Trek universe, Vulcan is in the 40 (or, if you would, Omicron 2) Eridani system, not closer Epsilon, Alpha Centauri’s extensive planetary system was unpopulated until Earth colonists set up an independent state there some time after the mid-21st century, contact with the Tellarites and the Andorians seems to have been limited by the Vulcan protectorate well into the 22nd century, Rigel was not a founding member of the UFP, and the development of the technologies I described at the end of the last paragraph is well, well into the future.) . more

Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology

Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology

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Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology

Stan Goldstein; Fred Goldstein; Illustrator-Rick Sternbach

Published by Pocket Books (1979)

About this Item: Pocket Books, 1979. Paperback. Condition: Good. Seller Inventory # SONG0671790897

Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology

Stan Goldstein; Fred Goldstein

Published by Pocket Books (1979)

About this Item: Pocket Books, 1979. Condition: UsedAcceptable. Rick Sternbach (illustrator). book. Seller Inventory # M0671790897_4

Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology

Goldstein, Stan; Goldstein, Fred

Published by Pocket Books, New York, NY, USA (1979)

About this Item: Pocket Books, New York, NY, USA, 1979. Soft cover. Condition: Very Good. Very good condition. Light wear. Binding tight, pages clean. Pictures available upon request. Seller Inventory # 043316

Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology

Goldstein, Stan; Goldstein, Fred

Published by Pocket Books 1979-12-24 (1979)

About this Item: Pocket Books 1979-12-24, 1979. Paperback. Condition: Fair. 0671790897 Please allow 4 – 14 business days for Standard shipping, within the US. Seller Inventory # POXM-0671790897

Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology 1980-2188 An Illustrated Guide to the History of Space Travel: From Space Chuttle to USS Enterprise

Stan Goldstein, Fred Goldstein

Published by Phoebus Publishing, London (1979)

From: Dales Books (Croydon, VIC, Australia)

About this Item: Phoebus Publishing, London, 1979. Soft cover. Condition: Very Good. No Jacket. Rick Sternbach (illustrator). Abridged Version. Covers and spine are worn, with some wear of page edges, price on front cover o/w VG. BW Illustrations. Size: 4to – over 9ѕ – 12″ tall. Book. Seller Inventory # 010599

Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology

Goldstein, Stanley

Published by Pocket Books, New York, New York, U.S.A. / London, UK (1980)

About this Item: Pocket Books, New York, New York, U.S.A. / London, UK, 1980. Trade Paperback. Condition: Very Good. 1st Edition, First Printing. Light coverwear. Seller Inventory # 090652

Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology

Goldstein, Stan & Fred Goldstein

Published by Pocket Books (1979)

About this Item: Pocket Books, 1979. Paperback. Condition: Good+. Some shelf rubbing on the covers, some edge wear, very short tear at the lower spine corner, otherwise clean and unmarked, sound and complete. ; 10.9 X 8.4 X 0.4 inches; 192 pages. Seller Inventory # 27162

Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology

Stan Goldstein; Fred Goldstein

Published by Pocket Books (1979)

About this Item: Pocket Books, 1979. Condition: New. Rick Sternbach (illustrator). book. Seller Inventory # M0671790897

Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology

Stan Goldstein

Published by Pocket Books (1979)

About this Item: Pocket Books, 1979. Paperback. Condition: Good. Ships with Tracking Number! INTERNATIONAL WORLDWIDE Shipping available. May not contain Access Codes or Supplements. May be ex-library. Shipping & Handling by region. Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!. Seller Inventory # 0671790897q

Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology

Stan Goldstein,Fred Goldstein

Published by Pocket Books December 1979 (1979)

About this Item: Pocket Books December 1979, 1979. Trade Paperback. Condition: Used – Good. First Printing. Seller Inventory # 66439

Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology

Stan Goldstein; Fred Goldstein; Rick Sternbach [Illustrator]

Published by Pocket Books (1979)

About this Item: Pocket Books, 1979. Paperback. Condition: Good. Seller Inventory # SKU4268198

Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology

Stan Goldstein, Fred Goldstein, Rick Sternbach (Illustrator)

Published by Pocket Books (1979)

About this Item: Pocket Books, 1979. Paperback. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0671790897

Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology

Goldstein, Stan; Goldstein, Fred

Published by Pocket Books 1979-12-24 (1979)

About this Item: Pocket Books 1979-12-24, 1979. Paperback. Condition: New. 0671790897 Please allow 4 – 14 business days for Standard shipping, within the US. Seller Inventory # XM-0671790897

Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology

Goldstein, Stan; Goldstein, Fred

Published by Pocket Books

About this Item: Pocket Books. PAPERBACK. Condition: Fine. 0671790897 Please allow 4 – 14 business days for Standard shipping, within the US. Seller Inventory # LNXM-0671790897

Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology

Goldstein, Stan and Fred / Rick Sternbach — (illustrator)

Published by Pocket Books / Wallaby, U.S.A. (1980)

About this Item: Pocket Books / Wallaby, U.S.A., 1980. Trade Paperback. Condition: Good. Trade Paperback — Good — Cover shows wear and small tape pull — Good reading copy — Color and b/w illustrations throughout — Stated First Wallaby Printing January, 1980 with full # string. Seller Inventory # 317967

Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology.

Goldstein, Stan and Fred (illustrated by Rick Sternbach)

Published by Wallaby (1980)

About this Item: Wallaby, 1980. Softcover. Condition: Very Good+. First Edition. A clean tight copy showing light rubbing and shelf wear only. Seller Inventory # 19099

Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology

Stan Goldstein; Fred Goldstein

Published by Pocket Books (1979)

About this Item: Pocket Books, 1979. Condition: Good. Rick Sternbach (illustrator). A+ Customer service! Satisfaction Guaranteed! Book is in Used-Good condition. Pages and cover are clean and intact. Used items may not include supplementary materials such as CDs or access codes. May show signs of minor shelf wear and contain limited notes and highlighting. Seller Inventory # 0671790897-2-4

Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology

Stan Goldstein

Published by Pocket Books (1979)

About this Item: Pocket Books, 1979. Paperback. Condition: GOOD. Has little wear to the cover and pages. Contains some markings such as highlighting and writing. Seller Inventory # 0671790897_abe_gd

Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology

Stan Goldstein

Published by Pocket Books (1979)

About this Item: Pocket Books, 1979. Paperback. Condition: acceptable. Moderate to heavy notes, marking, highlighting, noticeable wear and tear, worn covers, crease pages. Seller Inventory # 0671790897_abe_ac

Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology

Stan Goldstein

Published by Pocket Books (1979)

About this Item: Pocket Books, 1979. Paperback. Condition: VERY GOOD. Pages are intact and are not marred by notes or highlighting, but may contain a neat previous owner name. The spine remains undamaged. Seller Inventory # 0671790897_abe_vg

Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology

Goldstein, Stan; Goldstein, Fred

Ex Astris Scientia – From the Bonaventure to the Phoenix

From the Bonaventure to the Phoenix

Ever-changing ideas of the first warp ship – by Jцrg Hillebrand and Bernd Schneider

The history of the first warp vessel, whether it was built by Zefram Cochrane himself or not, was subject to a number of revisions throughout the history of the Star Trek production. Ships with different names and different designs were labeled as the “first warp-powered vessel” or something along these lines. They are listed and investigated in the following.


The Cage

In the first pilot episode, after the survivors from the SS Columbia have been found on Talos IV, Tyler tells them that “the time barrier’s been broken”. We could understand this as a reference to the invention of warp drive. It would have taken place no more than 18 years before the episode, the time when the Columbia crashed on the planet (although it raises the question how the Columbia could have got there without FTL propulsion). Considering that there is solid evidence from later episodes that warp drive already existed for many decades prior to TOS, we could still argue that the “broken time barrier” refers to a breakthrough in warp propulsion not unlike the first warp flight. A breakthrough so significant that some people in the 23rd century casually call it the “invention of warp drive”.

TOS: Metamorphosis

This TOS episode does not show or mention a first warp ship, but it introduces us to the inventor of warp propulsion, Zefram Cochrane. Nothing is mentioned that would imply that Cochrane himself built the first warp ship, however. We may only surmise that the first warp flight took place not too long after Cochrane’s revolutionary discovery irrespective of his possible direct involvement in the building of the prototype. Since Cochrane is said to have disappeared at the age of 87 some 150 years prior to “Metamorphosis”, the latest date for the launch of the first warp vessel is around 2117, because realistically he could have made his final journey into outer space only on a warp-powered ship. Since the Valiant quite obviously went to warp as soon as around 2065 according to TOS: “Where No Man Has Gone Before”, the first warp prototype must have been launched a few years earlier, when Cochrane was still a young man.

Side note It is an already classic inconsistency that, according to Kirk, Cochrane used to be a denizen of the Alpha Centauri in the TOS episode, whereas “First Contact” leaves no doubt that he had never left Earth until he went of the first warp flight. Read more at Biography Inconsistencies.

TAS: The Time Trap

The Enterprise crew rediscovers the long-missing Bonaventure inside a space anomaly in the Delta Triangle in TAS: “The Time Trap”. No date is mentioned as to when the ship was lost. But Scotty states that the Bonaventure was “the first ship to have warp drive installed”. This is clearly contradicted at latest in “Star Trek: First Contact”. In view of the typical Starfleet look of the Bonaventure (the design is just a distorted Constitution class in essence) the idea is dubious even at the time of the TAS episode, because how could an interstellar Federation be formed in the first place without warp drive?

Regarding the age of the Bonaventure, Spock speculates that “the crew’s descendants may still be living”, thereby implying that at least roughly a century has passed since her disappearance. This rules out the Bonaventure as the ship that broke the “time barrier” that was referred to in “The Cage”. However, the Bonaventure could be old enough to be Cochrane’s warp ship prototype, although most other evidence speaks against it.

TAS: The Counter-Clock Incident

Starfleet veteran Sarah April says she was “the first medical officer aboard a ship equipped with warp drive” in TAS: “The Counter-Clock Incident”. While this is not exactly the same as “the medical officer on the first ship with warp drive”, it still tells us that her service must have been soon after the launch of the Bonaventure, and possibly on the Bonaventure herself, luckily ending before the vessel’s disappearance. It is just too obvious that a big ship like the Bonaventure would be in need of a medical officer just like any vessel of the NX-01 era too. So rather than being mistaken about the nature of warp drive like Scotty (which in her case would be rather forgivable), Sarah April may exaggerate a great deal. It is still possible that Sarah April served on the nameless ship that broke the “time barrier” as mentioned in “The Cage”.

Or does she just mean she was the “first (=chief) medical officer” on no particularly important warp ship, which would pose no problem at all? This doesn’t seem so, as she puts too much emphasis on “first”, and Kirk agrees with her that she used to be a pioneer in space.

Spaceflight Chronology

This book from 1980 is non-canon and was never really intended to be canon, also because it consists of just too much speculation. Aside from Rick Sternbach’s co-authorship (he made the illustrations) there is one reason, however, to take the Spaceflight Chronology into account. It is the first time that the name “Bonaventure” (as a homage to TAS: “The Time Trap”), or any ship name at all, is linked to Zefram Cochrane (as a homage to TOS: “Metamorphosis”). The design depicted in the book will never show up in any canon installment of Star Trek though.

We learn in the Spaceflight Chronology that the Bonaventure was “the first ship with warp drive” and was launched in 2061. Actually, according to the book, an Earth sublight ship named UNSS Icarus made first contact with Alpha Centauri in 2048 where Zefram Cochrane, a native of the planet, discovered the principle of warp drive in 2051 (at the age of 21!). The Bonaventure is listed as a ship of the Cochrane class, which is odd, because in the tradition of Earth and Starfleet we would expect the class to be named after its lead ship, not after the inventor of its propulsion technology. There is no mention of Cochrane being involved in the development of the class aside from being its name giver.

Rick Sternbach: “I wish I had more information or memories about this particular ship, but there’s not much to tell. The design was part of an evolution of early warp ships, with the lineage ultimately taking the reader up to the TOS Enterprise and the refit. The beginnings of the familiar ship elements are there, just not terribly obvious. The forward section evolved from an aerodynamic body and would later become the saucer, the body behind it would evolve into the secondary hull, and the side pods would become the warp nacelles. The big package at the aft end housed big waste heat radiators and was probably where the impulse nozzles would be located.

Of course, the Phoenix seen in ‘First Contact’ went straight to the TOS-type nacelles, so that short-circuited any slower developmental hardware steps.”

Star Trek Chronology (1st & 2nd edition)

The first Star Trek Chronology appeared in 1993 as an officially approved timeline of the Star Trek Universe with a comparably small amount of speculation. The date of the first warp flight is 2061 just as in the earlier Spaceflight Chronology. The first warp vessel is unnamed here, and the design is dissimilar from any of the two Bonaventures. Cochrane is now from Earth and moved to Alpha Centauri later. It is stated that he himself was involved in the building of the first warp vessel.

The first edition of the Star Trek Chronology from 1993 depicts two black-and-white photos of a miniature and a color painting of Zefram Cochrane’s unnamed first warp vessel. The painting can be found on the front cover. The first photo is a three-quarter front view, which adorns the introduction to the 21st century chapter with the heading “Breaking the warp barrier”. The second photo shows a side/rear view of the vessel in the entry to the year 2061, when the first warp flight was intended to have taken place. It is labeled “Zefram Cochrane’s first warp-powered spacecraft”.

We can make out a registry on the painting and even a bit clearer on the front view photo. It appears to be “C1-21”, which does not make sense compared to other Star Trek registries, but may simply stand for “Cochrane 1 – 21st century”.

The launch date of 2061 and all depictions of this vessel were removed in the second edition of the Star Trek Chronology, issued in 1996. This adjustment was necessary because “Star Trek: First Contact” was just being produced and established different canon facts. The following notes were added to the entry of 2063: “Cochrane’s ship, the Phoenix, was designed by illustrator John Eaves under the direction of production designer Herman Zimmerman. Eaves’s design was based on a conjectural design for Cochrane’s ship developed by modelmaker Greg Jein for the first edition of this Chronology. (Eaves made several significant changes to the design of the Phoenix, in part because the storyline for Star Trek first contact reveals that Cochrane’s ship was launched from an uprated U.S. Air Force Titan missile, a fact known to Jein at the time the first Chronology was compiled.)”

DS9 episodes

The warp ship design from the Star Trek Chronology showed up in early DS9 episodes in two different forms: as the already mentioned model built by Greg Jein and as a side view depiction on a wall chart along with the then five known starships named Enterprise. More precisely we can see the early warp vessel in the following installments:

1. In DS9: “The Nagus” we can make out the wall display with the early warp ship in Keiko’s classroom. There are also models of the Miranda, Nebula and Galaxy but not Jein’s miniature. The classroom was previously seen in DS9: “A Man Alone” but not yet with the wall chart.

2. We can briefly see the wall chart as well as the miniature in DS9: “In the Hands of the Prophets”.

3. The miniature more prominently appears in DS9: “Cardassians”, but without the wall chart, although the classroom is full of other LCARS displays.

We get a good look at Greg Jein’s miniature in the DVD special features to DS9’s season 2, when it can be seen as a desktop decoration in Mike Okuda’s office. We can clearly make out the comparably small warp engines, which are mounted on straight horizontal pylons. In contrast, the nacelles of the vessel in the Star Trek Chronology (the painting as well as the model photo) are slightly tilted down. It looks like the nacelle assembly was modified some time prior to DS9, or a second model was built as set dressing.

Mike Okuda: “Greg Jein designed the version of Cochrane’s ship that was featured in the Star Trek Chronology. He did the models as a favor to us, so we pretty much gave him free reign to make what he thought was appropriate. I told him that we thought the ship would be experimental and very powerful, so he came up with that big curved radiation shield. The only change we made was to add the two rudimentary warp nacelles. We wanted it to look like something from the Matt Jefferies universe, but we wanted it to look much more primitive, and far more dangerous.

Greg later made a second copy of the model, which we provided to DS9 set decorator Laura Richarz for use as set dressing. The nacelles may have been slightly different in that version, which could account for the difference in the ‘dihedral.’ I think the flat version was the second model.

Doug Drexler loved that model and later did a quick drawing of it for use in a number of background DS9 graphics, including the one you mentioned. I’m pretty sure that those graphics were the only time that we called it ‘Bonaventure,’ although we did suggest that name for use in First Contact. ‘Phoenix’ did end up being more appropriate, given the film’s story.”

It also seems that in DS9: “Cardassians” the nacelles are missing, but actually they are just barely discernable because we see the ship almost straight from the side, and the nacelles are the same color as the engineering hull. If we look very closely we are able to recognize the red nacelles caps also on the episode screen cap. Hence the nacelles are still present as of the DS9 episode.

Let us have a closer look at the wall display. The big surprise is that, according to the display, this vessel is named Bonaventure. So unlike in the first edition of the Star Trek Chronology, where the design first appeared, the ship does have a name. The sub-title is “Discovery of the Space Warp”, which links the Bonaventure to Zefram Cochrane.

The wall display was made by Doug Drexler based on Greg Jein’s already existing model, and prior to “First Contact”. Comparing the drawing and the available screen caps of the miniature, also those from Voyager (see below), we can spot some inaccuracies in the drawing, however. Especially the rear engineering hull and the transition from this section to the aft engines is different from the model. The nacelles are located well below the centerline of the hull on the drawing, whereas they are most likely exactly on the centerline on Jein’s miniature in Okuda’s office. So the display is obviously based on the other version. Finally, the drawing is more colorful than the model was at any time that we know of. Our reconstructed side view schematic is based on the side view on the wall chart, but is corrected in a way to reflect the structure of the original miniature.

Doug Drexler: “Wow! I forgot about that one. That’s a pretty early one for DS-9. Good times!

Like so many of the graphics on the show, this one benefited by creation of the Star Trek Encyclopedia by Mike and Denise. It was a resource to them, because I’d developed so many peripheral diagrams. If a backlit came out of the blue for an episode, I could put something fun together in no time flat. Sometimes you only had a few hours to get a last minute request addressed.

The Bonaventure model that Greg Jein built for Mike as made specifically for the Star Trek Chronology. See that? I automatically called it ‘The Bonaventure.’ The idea is that it was built by Cochrane using off the shelf garage technology. At the time that seemed far fetched. from another era. like the Wright Brothers. Could never happen again. But then Burt Rutan [who built the experimental airplane Voyager to fly around the world] came along. I’m a believer!

The Phoenix grew out of this design. Early in the planning of ‘First Contact,’ Mike and I had done a number of illustrations showing how it would get into orbit.

By the way, ‘Bonaventure’ was absolutely a nod to the animated show.”

Star Trek: First Contact

The feature film makes it clear that Cochrane is human. Also, his ship is now named Phoenix and its design is a different one than anything shown so far, although it has many features in common with the Bonaventure that appeared on DS9. The date of the launch is now nailed down to 2063.

Malon ship

This is something of an off-topic note, but Jein’s model appeared one last time on a Malon ship in VOY: “Juggernaut”, certainly not as an early human spacecraft. Only the nacelles are missing on the Malon version. The hull of the Malon model was probably painted brownish, but the true color not entirely certain because the lighting inside the Malon freighter is intense green.


There is no way of denying or re-interpreting that Zefram Cochrane is a human being from Earth, that he constructed the first human-built warp vessel called Phoenix and launched it in 2063, as depicted in “Star Trek: First Contact”. Everything that we have heard or read of other “first warp vessels” must be accordingly amended at latest in the wake of this feature film.

If TAS is canon, then the TAS Bonaventure must be ruled out as the first ship with warp drive, much less as a design by Zefram Cochrane. It has to be some other historically important vessel with a new form of warp drive and not much older than from the late 22nd century. The vessel may have been named in honor of the other canon Bonaventure, the vessel from the classroom in DS9. The design from the Spaceflight Chronology is non-canon and has been ultimately invalidated just like idea that Cochrane is indigenous to Alpha Centauri. Regarding the Star Trek Chronology, there is no notable information about a first warp ship that hasn’t already been revised with regard to “Star Trek: First Contact”. Ironically, the ship design that was removed from the first edition is canon nonetheless thanks to its appearance in three DS9 episodes.

The miniature and wall display from DS9 may be incorporated into the history of warp flight. Yet, we need to re-interpret the line “Discovery of the Space Warp”, knowing that Cochrane developed warp drive on Earth and made the first flight (at least the first manned one) on the Phoenix and not on a ship named Bonaventure. This leaves the option that the DS9 Bonaventure is either an unmanned testbed, or rather a vessel that was launched soon after the Phoenix and hence still contributed to the “Discovery of the Space Warp”. It is well possible that the Bonaventure was the first warp ship built for real journeys through space, as opposed to the Phoenix that served as a test vehicle for just one flight. However, even without the Bonaventure the amassment of too early and/or too advanced warp vessels poses a problem.

Finally, we may speculate that the model in VOY represents an actual early Malon vessel just like the Bonaventure is supposedly an old Earth design.

See Also

TAS Starfleet & Federation Ship Classes – including the entry about the Bonaventure

Biography Inconsistencies – gaps in biographies and other anomalies

21st Century Earth History – thoughts about early interplanetary travel, the Eugenics Wars and the Third World War

Other History Inconsistencies – about the TOS movie timeline, the UESPA, first contact with the Borg, Klingons in the Federation, etc.