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Are We There Yet? Podcast

Grounding Virgin Galactic & Documenting SpaceX’s All-Civilian Mission

The crew of Inspiration4 trains for their upcoming mission on a parabolic flight simulating weightlessness. Photo: Inspiration4 / John Kraus.

Virgin Galactic’s founder Richard Branson flew to the edge of space back in July, riding in his company’s space tourism vehicle SpaceShipTwo. The trip grabbed headlines and news coverage worldwide as the billionaire raced to beat another space-faring billionaire Jeff Bezos to the edge of space and back.

Branson was welcomed back to Earth with fanfare and the flight signaled the start of what could be a very lucrative market for private space tourism. But recent reporting from The New Yorker uncovered a perilous flight with the founder and prompted the FAA to ground the vehicle as it investigates the “mishap.”

We’ll chat with The New Yorker writer Nicholas Schmidle about that perilous flight and what it reveals about the culture of safety and risk at Virgin Galactic.

Then, another group of civilians are set to take to the skies next week. SpaceX’s Inspiraiton4 crew is slated to launch from Kennedy Space Center Wednesday. The crew of four private astronauts have been training since early this year for the three-day mission — and photographer John Kraus has been there snapping photos of their journey.

We’ll talk with Kraus about the crew and the places they’ve gone as they train to fly to low-Earth orbit next week.

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Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Are We There Yet?' Host

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration. Brendan is a native Floridian, born and raised in Broward County. He moved to ... Read Full Bio »