+ Long Beach's Future In Space: Various Scientists and Entrepreneurs Are Pursuing It Now
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Long Beach's Future In Space: Various Scientists and Entrepreneurs Are Pursuing It Now



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(November 20, 2020, 7:55 p.m.) -- Adjacent to Long Beach Airport in Douglas Park, Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit is preparing satellites for launch. Meanwhile, also in Douglas Park, a firm based in New Zealand -- which chose Long Beach for its corporate headquarters -- is independently launching small satellites on its rockets. It just successfully orbited 30 satellites in a single launch and recovered its launch vehicles using parachute technology (details below.)

This growth in space ventures is organic, privately pursued with pioneering firms competing for what proponents view as a potentially lucrative market.

Virgin Orbit, based at 4022 Conant St. says on its website it's "on a mission to open space for everyone." It says "Small satellites are ushering in an era of space capabilities -- connecting us across vast distances, stimulating the global economy, and expanding the limits of human knowledge" and its Launch page states

"When your satellite arrives at our payload processing facility in Long Beach, CA, it'll feel right at home in our strictly regulated cleanroom. We monitor particle counts, humidity and temperature to ensure our cleanroom operates at ISO 8 Cleanliness standards." (The satellite is launched from Virgin's "Cosmic Girl" aircraft available from multiple launch locations across the globe.

But Virgin Orbit isn't alone. It has at least one de facto competitor right up the street.

As separately reported by LBREPORT.com, Rocket Lab, HQ'd at 3881 McGowen St. just launched and successfully orbited "30 satellites to unique orbits...The satellites will enable internet from space, test new methods of deorbiting space debris, and enable research into predicting earthquakes."

It was Rocket Lab's 16th launch using its "Electron" rocket. On November 19, it lifted off from New Zealand's Mahia Peninsula and RocketLab successfully recovered the rocket's first stage "using a parachute system for a controlled water landing before collection by a recovery vessel..."

Ultimately, Rocket Lab aims "to capture Electronís first stage mid-air by helicopter before the stage is returned to Rocket Lab production complexes [in New Zealand] for refurbishment and relaunch."

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Then there's the famous Zero G aircraft that has offered weightless flight experiences from LB Airport for several years as part of its national flight schedule. The specially equipped Boeing 727 climbs at a roughly 45 degree angle (fliers feel 1.8 G's, roughly twice their normal weight), crests the top of the ascent and descends at roughly a 20 to 30 degree angle producing astronaut-training type weightlessness in 15-20 second parabolas twelve times in a row. (LBREPORT.com publisher Bill Pearl was the only LB reporter aboard covering its Oct. 25 LGB flight; the Discovery channel sent a videographer and segment producer.)


For LBREPORT.com's initial description of the other-worldly experience, click here; additional coverage including on-board photos and video coming.)

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The Oct. 25 flight was filled to its pandemic-reduced capacity (24 face-mask-clad fliers instead of 34) bringing visitors to Long Beach. Zero G recently added a November 29 flight from LGB (cost: $6,700 per flier) in addition to a previously scheduled March 13, 2021 flight.

Zero G also participates in scientific research (although not currently from Long Beach.) (See LBREPORT.com coverage here and here.) In October 2020, NASA selected Purdue Universityís School of Aeronautics and Astronautics and School of Mechanical Engineering to test technologies in the weightless environment.

In additional to welcoming "space tourists," a university town like Long Beach is arguably well positioned to participate in future Zero G research programs. With commercial and scientific opportunities in space now emerging. Long Beach is arguably positioned as a "go" for launch.

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Support really independent news in Long Beach. No one in LBREPORT.com's ownership, reporting or editorial decision-making has ties to development interests, advocacy groups or other special interests; or is seeking or receiving benefits of City development-related decisions; or holds a City Hall appointive position; or has contributed sums to political campaigns for Long Beach incumbents or challengers. LBREPORT.com isn't part of an out of town corporate cluster and no one its ownership, editorial or publishing decisionmaking has been part of the governing board of any City government body or other entity on whose policies we report. LBREPORT.com is reader and advertiser supported. You can help keep really independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.


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