QuickTakes (09-12-2016)

New fellowship offers aerospace internships


Brooke Owens Fellowship Program

A new fellowship program honoring a space industry professional who passed away earlier this year will offer internships and mentoring for college-age women seeking careers in the aerospace industry.

The Brooke Owens Fellowship Program will provide 10- to 12-week paid internships starting next summer at various aerospace companies and organizations, including Blue Origin, SpaceX and Virgin Galactic. Fellows will also participate in an annual conference in Washington and, after their internships, produce videos about their experiences.

The fellowship program is named after Brooke Owens, a graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the International Space University who worked for several space organizations, including NASA, the X Prize Foundation and the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation. She died in June at the age of 35.

More details about the fellowships, and how to apply, are available at www.brookeowensfellowship.org.

Credit: Virgin Galactic

Credit: Virgin Galactic

SpaceShipTwo returns to the skies

Virgin Galactic formally started the flight test program for its second SpaceShipTwo Sept. 8. The suborbital spaceplane made a “captive carry” flight, remaining attached to its WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft for a flight out of the Mojave Air and Space Port in California lasting more than three and a half hours. The test was intended to see how the vehicle performed in the flight conditions it would be exposed to prior to release.

The flight came just a day after Virgin Galactic announced it would soon begin tests of the vehicle, which was rolled out in February ceremony. The company said afterwards it would analyze “a mountain” of data collected during the test flight, and that more captive carry flights may be required before they move on to free flights of SpaceShipTwo.

VERBATIM | Two ways of looking at a fireball

“If the booster does manage to survive this flight — its fifth — we will in fact reward it for its service with a retirement party and put it in a museum. In the more likely event that we end up sacrificing the booster in service of this test, it will still have most of its propellant on board at the time escape is triggered, and its impact with the desert floor will be most impressive.”

— Jeff Bezos, discussing in a Sept. 8 email the fate of the New Shepard propulsion module in an upcoming flight that will test the abort motor of Blue Origin’s crew capsule.

“Still working on the Falcon fireball investigation. Turning out to be the most difficult and complex failure we have ever had in 14 years. Particularly trying to understand the quieter bang sound a few seconds before the fireball goes off. May come from rocket or something else.”

— Elon Musk, ruminating Sept. 9 in a series of nocturnal tweets about what caused Falcon 9 to explode on the launch pad the week before.