Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2014: 271,099
2013: 330,818

Canada’s Homegrown Astronaut: Chris Hadfield

Col. Chris Hadfield describes life onboard the International Space Station to a packed house at the Future of Flight. Photo: Kris Hull

Col. Chris Hadfield describes life onboard the International Space Station to a packed house at the Future of Flight – Photo: Kris Hull

Colonel Chris Hadfield (RCAF ret.) is probably one of the most easily recognizable astronauts today. His popularity was spurred to rock star-like status in 2012 while he was training for his final spaceflight, a five-month stay on the International Space Station. Recently, Col. Hadfield made a stop in Everett, WA, to promote his newest book, You are Here – Around the World in 92 Minutes, and AirlineReporter had a few minutes to sit down and talk with this amazing man about his missions, his infamous tweets, and his books.

Chris Hadfield, Canada's most famous astronaut! portrait. Photo: NASA

Chris Hadfield, Canada’s most famous astronaut! Photo: NASA

In the last fifteen to twenty years, no astronaut has risen to the popularity that Chris Hadfield has. As one of the few Canadian astronauts, he has had the honor of flying into space three times: twice on the Space Shuttle, and once on a Soyuz. On his last mission, he assumed command of the International Space Station, only the second non-American or Russian to hold that honor. He was the only Canadian to visit the Russian space station Mir  and was the first Canadian to walk in space.

When asked about his two space walks, and what it was like to exit that hatch for the first time, he said “It’s very visually powerful. It is overwhelmingly visually powerful outside. You have the Earth going by underneath you at five miles a second, and all of the colors that exist, the textures, are just amazing. When you look the other way, it is the complete blackness of the universe going on forever. And you are in the middle of all of this, hanging onto a silver and white man-made structure, holding on with one hand. The onslaught coming in through your eyes is amazing. Your eyes is the only sense that tells you were you are. It is an overwhelming experience. When I go back and watch the video of the first time I exited the hatch, I can see that I just stopped for several seconds and just took it all in. We over use the words awesome and incredible, but walking in space is both of these things.”

Continue reading Canada’s Homegrown Astronaut: Chris Hadfield

Touring the Bigelow Aerospace BA-330 Space Habitat Mock Up

This manicain is doing important experiments in the BA-330

This mannequin is doing important experiments in the BA-330

Space… the final frontier. Sorry, I just always wanted to start a story with that and figured this was the time.

When I was recently invited down to Las Vegas to learn about Boeing’s CST-100 and Bigelow Aerospace’s BA-330 space habitat, I lit up. I love space and, even more so, commercial space. This is the area of space where maybe someday an average Joe might be able to experience what it is like to be up in the heavens. Until then, it will take companies and individuals with money to get commercial space off the ground (literally).

Once inflated, the BA-300 is quite large.

Once inflated, the BA-300 is quite large

The International Space Station is currently expected to have a useful lifespan until about 2020. Firms like Bigelow Aerospace are looking at ways to provide a commercial space habitat to nations and companies who are willing (and able) to pay. Although they have tried a few variants, they are putting quite a bit of effort into the BA-330 Space Habitat (no, it is not related to the Airbus A330).

It is one thing to see drawings of what the BA-330 will look like, versus having a full mock-up. And that is exactly what Bigelow had at their facility in Las Vegas – a true, life-sized version of the BA-330, and I was lucky enough to get a look inside.

Continue reading Touring the Bigelow Aerospace BA-330 Space Habitat Mock Up

VIP Tour of TAM Airlines’ New First Class on a Boeing 777-300ER

Time to take a VIP tour of one of TAM's Boeing 777-300ERs at Paine Field. Image: David Parker Brown.

Time to take a VIP tour of one of TAM’s Boeing 777-300ERs at Paine Field. Photo: David Parker Brown

Recently, I was invited to take a special tour of one of TAM Airlines’ brand-spanking new Boeing 777s that was parked at Paine Field. The plane was so new that Boeing was still prepping it for delivery. How could I refuse?

The aircraft I toured (PT-MUJ) and was TAM’s fourth 777-300ER, which was delivered on August 29th, 2013. The airline has ordered a total of nine of the type.

The 777 is the first aircraft that TAM has equipped with their new First Class product, and I was excited to check it out.

Continue reading VIP Tour of TAM Airlines’ New First Class on a Boeing 777-300ER

Virgin Galactic getting Closer to Space

Spaceship 2 under Rocket Power as seen through the Telescope at the Clay Center Observatory - Photo: MarsScientific.com and Clay Center Observatory

Spaceship 2 under Rocket Power as seen through the Telescope at the Clay Center Observatory – Photo: MarsScientific.com and Clay Center Observatory

At approximately 7:47am MDT on the 29th April, the future of space tourism became one step closer to reality. Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShip Two (SS2) fired its rocket motor and after a 16 second burn completed a successful test flight.

During the brief time that SpaceShip 2 (christened VSS Enterprise) was in the air, it achieved an altitude of 55,000ft and a speed of Mach 1.2. After a total flight time of just over 10 minutes it touched down safely in Mojave.

Sir Richard Branson & 'Forger' aka Mark Stucky congratulate each other after the completion of SS2's first rocket-powered flight - Photo: Mark Greenberg

Sir Richard Branson & ‘Forger’ aka Mark Stucky congratulate each other after the completion of SS2’s first rocket-powered flight – Photo: Mark Greenberg

“The first powered flight of Virgin Spaceship Enterprise was without any doubt, our single most important flight test to date,” said Virgin Galactic Founder Sir Richard Branson, who was on the ground in Mojave to witness the occasion. “For the first time, we were able to prove the key components of the system, fully integrated and in flight.”

WhiteKnightTwo, christened VMS Eve after Richard Branson's mother Eve, and SpaceShipTwo, known as VSS Enterprise, take to the skies during a test flight in Mojave, CA, USA. Photo: Mark Greenberg

WhiteKnightTwo, christened VMS Eve after Richard Branson’s mother Eve, and SpaceShipTwo, known as VSS Enterprise, take to the skies during a test flight in Mojave, CA, USA. Photo: Mark Greenberg

SpaceShip 2 was carried to its launching altitude by White Knight 2 (WK2) (named VMS Eve after Sir Richard Branson’s mother). Once at 47,000ft Virgin Galactic’s Chief Pilot Dave Mackay, who was piloting WK2 at the time, released SS2 into free flight. Once verifying checks were completed, Mark Stucky, the test pilot, triggered the rocket motor ignition system and propelling the spacecraft on-wards & upwards.

“The rocket motor ignition went as planned, with the expected burn duration, good engine performance and solid vehicle handling qualities throughout,” said Virgin Galactic President & CEO George Whitesides. “The successful outcome of this test marks a pivotal point for our program. We will now embark on a handful of similar powered flight tests, and then make our first test flight to space.”

A shot of Space Ship 2 igniting its rocket motor as seen from the Boom Camera - Photo: Virgin Galactic

A shot of Space Ship 2 igniting its rocket motor as seen from the Boom Camera – Photo: Virgin Galactic

As the test program expands and begins it’s final phase Virgin Galactic and the manufacturer Scaled Composites, hope to see the first powered spaceflight by the end of this year. When that day is reached, it will mean the end of the test program and the beginning of entry to commercial service. I wonder how many miles it would take to cover the $200,000 ticket cost.

This story written by…Malcolm Muir, Lead Correspondent.

Mal is an Australian Avgeek now living and working in Seattle. With a passion for aircraft photography, traveling and the fun that combining the two can bring. Insights into the aviation world with a bit of a perspective thanks to working in the travel industry.

@BigMalX | BigMal’s World | Photos

VIDEO: Space Shuttle Being Mounted on Boeing 747

Space shuttle sitting on top of a modified Boeing 747 - Click to see video.

Space shuttle sitting on top of a modified Boeing 747 - Click to see video.

I know it is not directly related to airlines, but close enough. You have a modified Boeing 747 that can fly the Space Shuttle across the country.  The process of getting the shuttle on and off the Boeing 747 is not an easy task. A reader pointed out a site that shows a bunch of photos and also a time-lapse video.

Thanks Dan for the tip!