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Story 1: Breaking News Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Crashes in Test Flight — One Test Pilot Killed and One Test Pilot Seriously Injured — Are You Going Into Space — You Bet — The X Prize Vision — Videos
STATEMENT FROM VIRGIN GALACTIC
Virgin Galactic’s partner Scaled Composites conducted a powered test flight of SpaceShipTwo earlier today. During the test, the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of the vehicle. Our first concern is the status of the pilots, which is unknown at this time. We will work closely with the relevant authorities to determine the cause of the accident and provide updates as soon as we are able to do so.
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Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo crashes during testing
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo crashed after it had an “in-flight anomaly” during testing Friday, according to a Mojave Air and Space Port spokesperson.
The status of its pilots is unknown.
A statement from Virgin Galactic said its partner Scaled Composites conducted the test flight Friday, during which a “serious anomaly” led to the “loss of the vehicle.”
This was the company’s first rocket-powered test flight in nine months. In January, SpaceShipTwo reached 71,000 feet – its highest altitude so far.
Virgin Galactic has conducted testing for the spacecraft in the Mojave Desert at Mojave Air and Space Port, about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles.
British billionaire Richard Branson’s commercial space venture in May announced an agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration that helped clear the path to send paying customers on a suborbital flight.
The agreement sets the parameters for how routine missions to space will take place in national airspace. It does not yet give the company a license to launch these missions.
The company’s plans have been repeatedly delayed. Branson said earlier this month at a celebration in Mojave that it was “on the verge” of going to space, but he did not give a timeframe.
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Crashes: 1 Dead, 1 Injured
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo rocket plane exploded and crashed during a powered test flight on Friday, resulting in one fatality and one injury, authorities said.
The explosion occurred after the plane was released from its WhiteKnightTwo carrier airplane and fired up its rocket engine in flight for the first time in more than nine months.
“During the test, the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of the vehicle,” Virgin Galactic said in a statement. “The WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft landed safely. Our first concern is the status of the pilots.”
Jesse Borne, an officer at the California Highway Patrol, told NBC News that there was one fatality and one major injury.
The flight originated from the Mojave Air and Space Port, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of Los Angeles. The Federal Aviation Administration said two crew members were aboard SpaceShipTwo — which is consistent with Virgin Galactic’s practice of having two test pilots who are equipped with parachutes. The pilots have not yet been identified.
Photographer Ken Brown, who was covering the test flight, told NBC News that he saw an explosion high in the air and later came upon SpaceShipTwo debris scattered across a small area of the desert. The Mojave airport’s director, Stuart Witt, said the craft crashed north of Mojave. He deferred further comment pending a news conference that is scheduled for 2 p.m. PT (5 p.m. ET).
Keith Holloway, a Washington-based spokesman for the National Transportation and Safety Board, said “we are in the process of collecting information.” The FAA said it was also investigating the incident.
New kind of fuel tested
During the nine months since the previous rocket-powered test in January, Virgin Galactic switched SpaceShipTwo’s fuel mixture from a rubber-based compound to a plastic-based mix — in hopes that the new formulation would boost the hybrid rocket engine’s performance.
Before Friday’s flight, the most recent aerial outing was on Oct. 7, when SpaceShipTwo took an unpowered, gliding flight back to the Mojave runway.
The latest test got off to a slow start. SpaceShipTwo spent more than three hours on the Mojave runway, slung beneath its WhiteKnightTwo mothership, while the ground team assessed whether the weather was right for flight. The go-ahead was finally given for takeoff at 9:19 a.m. PT (12:19 p.m. ET).
It took WhiteKnightTwo about 45 minutes to get to 50,000 feet, the altitude at which it released SpaceShipTwo for free flight.
The flight was part of Virgin Galactic’s long-running program to test SpaceShipTwo in preparation for suborbital trips to the edge of outer space. Virgin Galactic had said the first trip to an outer-space altitude — usually defined as 100 kilometers, or 62 miles — could have taken place before the end of the year, depending on how the tests went. The company’s billionaire founder, Richard Branson, was hoping to ride on the first commercial flight next year.
More than 700 customers have paid as much as $250,000 for a ride on the rocket plane.
Branson’s Virgin Galactic Spaceship in catastrophic explosion and crash: One pilot dead and another critical as experimental plane blows up on test flight over California
- SpaceShipTwo was flying under rocket power and then tweeted that it had ‘experienced an in-flight anomaly’
- Virgin Galactic confirmed craft had exploded
- Images show parts of the craft on the ground
- Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and Kate Winslet among those who have signed up to fly in the spacecraft
- Second space disaster in a week after Antares rocket exploded
- Sir Richard Branson had pledged to be on first commercial flight with his family
- More than 700 customers have paid as much as $250,000 for a seat on the plane, which cost $500 million to develop
Virgin Galactic’sSpaceShipTwo spacecraft has exploded during a test flight over the Mojave desert, killing one of the two pilots onboard.
Onlookers reported seeing an explosion and debris from the craft.
Two pilots were onboard, and authorities confirmed one was dead, with the second being taken to hospital in Lancaster with serious injuries aboard a helicopter.
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Parts of the crashed spacecraft in the Mojave desert. SpaceShipTwo was flying under rocket power after being released from its mothership – then Virgin tweeted that it had ‘experienced an in-flight anomaly.’
Two pilots were onboard, and authorities confirmed one was dead, with the second being taken to hospital in Lancaster with serious injuries aboard a helicopter (pictured)
Part of SpaceShip Two’s fuselage on the desert floor
Onlookers saw at least one parachute from the craft, which has two crew members.
‘Virgin Galactic’s partner Scaled Composites conducted a powered test flight of #SpaceShipTwo earlier today,’ Virgin Galactic said in a tweeted statement.
‘During the test, the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of SpaceShipTwo. WK2 landed safely.
‘Our first concern is the status of the pilots, which is unknown at this time.
‘We will work closely with relevant authorities to determine the cause of this accident and provide updates ASAP.’
The company earlier tweeted that SpaceShipTwo was flying under rocket power and then tweeted that it had ‘experienced an in-flight anomaly.’
Richard Branson said in a statement, ‘Thoughts with all at Virgin Galactic & Scaled, thanks for all your messages of support. I’m flying to Mojave immediately to be with the team.’
Wreckage of Virgin Galactic’s space tourism rocket
Parachutes were spotted in the area, and ABC captured this image of them on the ground
Twitter users have begun posting pictures of the debris to Twitter
Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship 2 in flight. The rocket exploded today, killing one pilot and seriously injuring another
The FAA is investigating and released a statement saying, ‘Just after 10 a.m. PDT today, ground controllers at the Mojave Spaceport lost contact with SpaceShipTwo, an experimental space flight vehicle.
‘The incident occurred over the Mojave Desert shortly after the space flight vehicle separated from WhiteKnightTwo, the vehicle that carried it aloft.
‘Two crew members were on board SpaceShipTwo at the time of the incident. WhiteKnightTwo remained airborne after the incident.’
HOW VIRGIN GALACTIC WILL TAKE PASSENGERS TO SPACE
SpaceShipTwo has been under development at Mojave Air and Spaceport in the desert northeast of Los Angeles.
SpaceShipTwo is carried aloft by a specially designed mothership and then released before igniting its rocket for suborbital thrill ride into space and then a return to Earth as a glider.
Ticket cost: The starting price for flights is $250,000 (£150,000) – the first ceremonial flight will be undertaken by Richard Branson and his family.
Training: Passengers are required to go through a ‘Pre-Flight Experience Programme’, including three days of pre-flight preparing onsite at the spaceport to ensure passengers are physically and mentally fit to fly.
Once aboard: SpaceShipTwo will carry six passengers and two pilots. Each passenger gets the same seating position with two large windows – one to the side and one overhead.
A climb to 50,000ft before the rocket engine ignites. Passengers become ‘astronauts’ when they reach the Karman line, the boundary of Earth’s atmosphere, at which point SpaceShipTwo separates from its carrier aircraft, White Knight II. The spaceship will make a sub-orbital journey with approximately six minutes of weightlessness, with the entire flight lasting approximately 3.5 hours.The spaceship accelerates to approximately 3,000 mph – or nearly four times the speed of sound
The space ship is 60ft long with a 90inch diameter cabin allowing maximum room for the astronauts to float in zero gravity.
Flight path: A climb to 50,000ft before the rocket engine ignites. Passengers become ‘astronauts’ when they reach the Karman line, the boundary of Earth’s atmosphere, at which point SpaceShipTwo separates from its carrier aircraft, White Knight II.
The spaceship will make a sub-orbital journey with approximately six minutes of weightlessness, with the entire flight lasting approximately 3.5 hours.
The spaceship accelerates to approximately 3,000 mph – or nearly four times the speed of sound
Flight frequency: Initially one per week, eventually to have two flights per day.
Photographer Ken Brown, who was covering the test flight, told NBC News that he saw a midflight explosion and later came upon SpaceShipTwo debris scattered across a small area of the desert.
Two pilots fly in SpaceShipTwo’s cockpit during a test.
Those pilots are equipped with parachutes, and after the anomaly, at least one chute was reportedly sighted over the Mojave Air and Space Port in California, the base from which SpaceShipTwo and its WhiteKnightTwo carrier plane took off.
Bakersfield’s KGET-TV quoted the Mojave airport’s director, Stuart Witt, as saying that the craft crashed east of Mojave.
A tweet from Virgin Galactic said more information would be forthcoming.
Kern County Fire Department reports it is heading to a location in the Mojave Desert.
California Highway Patrol Officer Darlena Dotson says the agency is responding to a report of a crash in the Cantil area.
SpaceShipTwo made its last powered test flight on Jan. 10.
The Virgin logo is seen clearly in this image of the wreckage
Cars and emergency vehicles line up near the crash site
A closer look at the wreckage from the explosion
SpaceShipTwo’s pilots include, among other, Frederick ‘CJ’ Sturckow, Michael Masucci and Peter Siebold.
Sturckow, 53, is a former NASA pilot and was snapped up by Virgin Galactic in May 2013 after an illustrious career including 1,200 hours in space and lengthy military service.
He lives in Lakeside, California with his wife, earned his aviator wings in 1987 and was deployed overseas with the military to Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Bahrain. He flew 41 combat missions during Operation Desert Storm and led 30 plane airstrikes into Iraq and Kuwait. During his service, he logged more than 6,500 fight hours in more than 60 different aircraft.
According to his NASA profile, he was selected by the space agency in December 1994 and subsequently worked in roles including the Lead for Kennedy Space Center and Chief of the Astronaut Office International Space Station Branch. He went on to log 1,200 hours in space, including during the first International Space Station assembly mission in 1998 and aboard three other missions to the International Space Station between 2001 and 2009.
In 2011, he was named as the backup commander for the penultimate mission of the Space Shuttle program, allowing Commander Mark Kelly to support his wife, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, as she recovered from an attempted assassination in Tuscon.
CJ Sturckow gets splashed with water after guiding Virgin Galactic’s private SpaceShipTwo through an unpowered ‘glide flight’
Pilot Michael Masucci celebrates as well with a little water
Sturckow (in red hat), Pete Siebold (with arms crossed in sunglasses) and Masucci (far right)
Along with Sturckow, 51-year-old Michael Masucci – known as ‘Sooch’ – works out of Virgin Galactic’s Mojave, California location to conduct flight training and testing. He joined the team in 2013.
Masucci, a retired U.S. Air Force (USAF) Lieutenant Colonel has more than 30 years of civilian and military operational and test flying experience and has logged more than 9,000 flying hours in 70 different types of airplanes and gliders.
Before joining Virgin Galactic, he served as a U-2 combat pilot in several operations and instructed at the USAF Test Pilot School, while also serving as a Branch Chief. As a U-2 test pilot he was instrumental in the development and testing of the aircraft’s glass cockpit and power upgrade programs, according to AeroNews. The married dad also worked for XOJET Inc., a private company based in Brisbane, California where he captained a Citation X, a business jet aircraft.
FAA Inspector John Penney, pilot Todd ‘Leif’ Ericson and Masucci
SpaceShip2 coming in for a safe landing during a previous run
Branson christening the WhiteKnightTwo, which landed safely today
Siebold flew his first solo flight and gained his pilot’s license at 16 – the youngest age possible – and went on to teach flight classes at the San Luis Obispo Airport while he was a student at Cal Poly. He completed his degree in 2001.
The 43-year-old, who lives in Tehachapi, California with his wife, was one of the test pilots for SpaceShipOne, a experimental spaceplane that completed the first manned private spaceflight in 2004. As a design engineer at its aerospace company Scaled Composites, Siebold was responsible for the simulator, navigation system, and ground control system for the SpaceShipOne project.
In 2009, he was awarded the Iven C. Kincheloe award – the most prestigious award a test pilot can receive – for his role as chief test pilot on the Model 348 WhiteKnightTwo plane, used to lift the SpaceShipTwo spacecraft to release altitude.
By the time of his award, he had logged about 2,500 hours of flight time in 40 different types of fixed wing aircraft, MustangNews reported.
On October 7, Virgin Galactic tweeted: ‘Pilots Pete Siebold (Scaled) and CJ Sturckow (Virgin Galactic) have landed #SpaceShipTwo safely after another great test flight.’
Incredible footage of Virgin Galactic’s third flight (Archive)
SpaceShipTwo was flying under rocket power after being released from its mothership – then Virgin tweeted that it had ‘experienced an in-flight anomaly.’
In May, the company announced it was switching the fuel used in the vehicle’s hybrid rocket motor, hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene, a form of rubber, to a polyamide-based plastic.
During a media tour of Virgin Galactic’s Mojave facilities on Oct. 4 that marked the tenth anniversary of the final flight of SpaceShipOne, the suborbital vehicle that won the $10-million Ansari X Prize, company officials said they expected to resume powered test flights ‘imminently’ once qualification tests of the new motor were done.
At the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight in Las Cruces, New Mexico, on Oct. 15, Virgin Galactic chief executive George Whitesides said the company had completed those qualification tests.
‘We expect to get back into powered test flight quite soon,’ he said.
A HISTORY OF DELAYS
July 2008 – Branson predicts that the maiden space voyage will take place within 18 months
October 2009 – Virgin Galactic says initial flights will take place from Spaceport America ‘within two years’
December 7, 2009 – SpaceShipTwo unveiled and Branson tells ticket holders that flights will being in 2011
April 2011 – Branson says that due to delays flights will not begin for another 18 months
April 29, 2013 – SpaceShipTwo has first test flight, but only achieves a speed of 920 mph, less than half the speed Branson predicted
May 14, 2013 – Branson says first flight will take place on December 25, 2013
September 2014 – Branson says first flight will happen in February or March of 2015
SpaceShipTwo has been under development at Mojave Air and Spaceport in the desert northeast of Los Angeles.
SpaceShipTwo is carried aloft by a specially designed jet and then released before igniting its rocket for suborbital thrill ride into space and then a return to Earth as a glider.
Seats on the flights into space are already being snapped for £250,000 ahead of the spring launch at Spaceport America in New Mexico.
Branson’s big project has also attracted a slew of big name passengers happy to pay for this once in a lifetime experience, including newlyweds Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie; Justin Bieber and his manager Scooter Braun; Lady Gaga, who plans to try and sing in space; former pop star Lance Bass, who has long been vocal about his desire to head to space; and Ashton Kutcher, who was the 500th customer to purchase a ticket. Russell Brand also got a ticket for his birthday from ex-wife Katy Perry when the two were married. Perry bought a ticket as well so Brand would not have to go alone.
Stephen Hawking and Kate Winslet are also set to fly, but got their seats for free. Winslet because she is married to Branson’s nephew, Ned RocknRoll, and Hawking because Branson wanted to offer the legendary astrophysicist a chance to go into space.
The ship attached to its mothership
However, Sir Richard is facing a ‘backlash’ from some of the nearly 700 passengers who have already paid for a ticket on the craft.
Some stumped up the fee as long ago as 2005, but still have no idea when they will eventually reach space.
The 600-plus takers for the flights are already benefiting from their ticket purchase, which by extension enters them into an exclusive club that has seen them visit Necker Island and the Mojave Desert with Branson along with undertaking G-force training.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2816224/Virgin-Galactic-spaceship-flight-problem.html#ixzz3Hl17hd8L
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SpaceShipTwo Flew on Untested Rocket
Richard Branson’s plane meant to carry tourists into space never tested a new engine using new fuel before it flew—and exploded—over California on Friday.
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo crashed in the California desert Friday after testing a new rocket motor for the first time in flight. The company said an “in-flight anomaly” occurred. Law enforcement said one pilot was killed and the other was seriously injured.
“During the test, the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of the vehicle,” Virgin Galactic said in a statement it released to NBC News. “Our first concern is the status of the pilots, which is unknown at this time. We will work closely with relevant authorities to determine the cause of this accident and provide updates as soon as we are able to do so.”
SpaceShipTwo had been slung under the jet-powered carrier aircraft WhiteKnightTwo before taking off. WhiteKnightTwo carried SpaceShipTwo to 50,000 feet before releasing it for free flight.
The Federal Aviation Administration provided additional details on what happened next.
“Just after 10 a.m. PDT today, ground controllers at the Mojave Spaceport lost contact with SpaceShipTwo, an experimental space flight vehicle,” FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown told The Daily Beast in an email. “The incident occurred over the Mojave Desert shortly after the space flight vehicle separated from WhiteKnightTwo, the vehicle that carried it aloft. Two crew members were on board SpaceShipTwo at the time of the incident.”
The WhiteKnightTwo remained airborne after the incident and landed safely.
The National Transportation Safety Board also will investigate the crash, a spokesman told The Daily Beast.
SpaceShipTwo was testing a new plastic-based rocket fuel for the first time Friday. An eyewitness told The Daily Beast that the spacecraft exploded shortly after the rocket motor was ignited. The spaceship had not flown a powered flight in about nine months because engineers were switching out its original engine that used rubber-based rocket fuel for the new engine, which used plastic-based fuel.
Scaled Composites, which built the spacecraft, had experienced some problems with the new rocket, which until Friday had only been tested on the ground. While the new motor holds much promise of greatly increased performance, there were some serious risks associated with the new rocket—as Friday’s incident proved.
With the new rocket installed, SpaceShipTwo was expected to fly more than five times higher than it had ever flown before—right to the edge of space at 62 miles above the Earth. In some ways, SpaceShipTwo, which was to reach a maximum speed of about 2,500 miles per hour during its ascent into space, was pushing the limits of its virtually untested design.
It was not the first time Virgin pushed limits to get into space. A new biography about SpaceShipTwo’s patron, Richard Branson, by investigative journalist Tom Bower makes that clear. Rocket engineers Geoff Daly and Caroline Campbell were critical of one of the components of the original rubber-based fuel: nitrous oxide. Campbell warned: “Nitrous oxide can explode on its own.” Another toxic component of the fuel was hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene, a form of rubber. Campbell said that when the engine ran there was “so much soot coming out the back, burning rubber, that it could be carcinogenic.”
In 2007, the unattached rocket engine using that fuel was being tested on the ground in the Mojave desert when it exploded and killed three of 40 engineers observing the test. Investigators found that safety regulations at the site had been violated and that the men killed had been too close to the rocket motor.
After tests this January, it was decided to the fuel powering the rocket engine should have its rubber removed. The reason was not toxicity but that the fuel did not provide consistent and stable power, and the test pilots had to shut down the engine prematurely. Before SpaceShipTwo could fly with the new fuel aboard it had to be extensively tested on the ground. As those tests were taking place, Branson told Bloomberg TV: “It took us a lot longer to build rockets that we felt completely comfortable with.”
SpaceShipTwo was expected to usher in a new era of commercial space travel: More than 700 people had already paid more than $250,000 each for a chance to leave the planet and experience the weightlessness of space flight. Branson himself had been planning to fly onboard the spacecraft by next year.
Friday’s incident, however, throws all of that into question.
Virgin Galactic’s Flight Path to Disaster: A Clash of High Risk and Hyperbole
Sir Richard Branson’s a consummate salesman, but his rhetoric and hopes got ahead of his company’s engineers.
It was always recklessly optimistic of Sir Richard Branson to imagine that he could go straight from experimental test flights of his Virgin Galactic SpaceShip Two to carrying passengers in a matter of months.
That’s not the way that things work when you’re pushing at the edge of the unknown, as this program was.
And yet there was Sir Richard, only a few weeks ago, suggesting that once the ship had fired up its rocket motor with a new kind of fuel he would be riding the first passenger-carrying flight early next year.
He’s never seemed either to understand or admit how many technical challenges had to be faced before space tourism could be an everyday event, as safe and simple as flying an airline.
Every milestone in aviation and aerospace has been reached only after exhaustive and often dangerous testing.
The closest parallel to the Galactic challenge is the example of Chuck Yaeger being the first man to successfully fly at supersonic speed in 1947.
It was called, rather dramatically, breaking the sound barrier. In fact, there was no barrier but there was much to be discovered about changes to the controllability of an airplane as it surged beyond the speed of sound.
Yaeger’s Bell X-1 rocket ship was a one-off experimental machine. It would be years before air force pilots could safely fly the supersonic fighters that evolved from these test flights into a very different form.
Yet Virgin Galactic posited the notion that an experimental test vehicle and the final form of a “spaceship for tourists” could be identical.
Both a rocket engine with a temperamental record and an airframe of revolutionary design and construction had to be proved safe. And not just safe for test pilots, but safe enough for the long line of celebrities who had signed up to ride the rocket.
All the Virgin Galactic test flying was done under a special experimental permit issued by the Federal Aviation Administration. To reach the point where SpaceShip Two could be cleared for carrying passengers Galactic needed to move from the experimental permit to being awarded an operator’s license.
That required a new 180-day review by the FAA to establish that all the systems were thoroughly tested and fail-safe. But remember, this was uncharted territory for the FAA just as it was for Galactic. Indeed, by submitting to the FAA review Galactic was being asked to set the standards for all who followed… if they could.
It was a very tall order. Branson wanted a vehicle that could carry six passengers, two pilots and reach a speed of 2,500mph and a height of around 65 miles, ten times the height at which an airliner cruises.
By any measure, this accident will have set back the development program by years. Will backers want to pour ever more money into this black hole?
When the FAA certifies a new airliner as safe it is normal for the airplane builder, like Boeing or Airbus, to put as many a six airplanes into the test program, all flying at the same time, to test every aspect of the design and its safety—and this for a technology that is in most parts wholly mature. Even then it can take several years to receive certification. The principle is clear: the design must have multiple redundancies so that no single failure can jeopardize the airplane.
But here Virgin was fielding only one test vehicle that embodied a whole set of completely untried systems. Everything was being staked on the two test pilots being able to anticipate potential failures and the ground engineers likewise poring over the test results to detect weak points before they had catastrophic results. Despite this, Virgin asked the FAA to begin their review for the operator’s license in August 2013, and that was when the 180-day clock started ticking.
However, as that period neared its end it was obvious that SpaceShip Two was nowhere near completing its test flights and passing every safety milestone that it needed to. So Virgin voluntarily asked the FAA to stop the clock.
The program was facing its most daunting test, firing up the rocket engine to full power and for long enough to reach that apogee of 65 miles high.
Early this year a test flight proved that the fuel being used for the rocket would never meet that goal. The power delivered by the rocket motor was uneven and tricky to control. On the first powered test flights the pilots had prematurely to shut down the engine.
Then a critical change was ordered—a fuel using a new formula that was thought to be more stable and deliver more power. This fuel was repeatedly tested on the ground. But no ground test can replicate the conditions of a flight—key factors like temperature, air pressure and far lower gravitational pull affect the way the fuel behaves.
On Friday morning the pilots prepared for the first flight with the new fuel. There was, I am told, a two-hour delay caused by concerns about the temperature of the fuel. Nonetheless, the test pilots, both known to be scrupulous in their preparations, felt confident enough to go. So SpaceShip Two was lifted aloft by the mother ship, WhiteKnight Two, and separated at 40,000 feet to “light the candle” as rocket ignition is called. Disaster followed.
There are many consequences to this failure. Not the least is what it implies for the financing of the project. After years of delays the costs have gone beyond a billion dollars. More than a third of that money has come from Abar, an investment fund based in Abu Dhabi. (This was made available in return for an undertaking by Virgin to build a space tourism base in the Gulf.) By any measure, this accident will have set back the development program by years. Will backers want to pour ever more money into this black hole?
Then there is the case of Spaceport America in New Mexico, near the small city of Truth & Consequences. This cost local taxpayers $212 million to build in the hope that they would become the center of the new industry of space tourism.
It’s not exactly clear how many people have signed up to ride SpaceShip One – Galactic has claimed that as many as 800 people have paid deposits on the $250,000 fare but the numbers are squishy. For these people the disaster over the Mojave Desert is a sobering wake-up call. What to many must have seemed the prospect of a spectacular joy ride is now better appreciated as a thrill from the very edge of what is safely attainable.
From the beginning in 2004 there has always been a credibility gap between the fairground hyperbole of Branson’s formidable publicity machine and the scientific reality of the enterprise. Somehow, probably because he is such a consummate showman, Branson has been able, year after year, to override the story of continual delays, flagrant over-promises and a voracious, seemingly open-ended budget. This time it’s different. A National Transportation Safety Board investigation will deliver a forensic rigor that has been so far lacking. It will strip away the vocabulary of the promoter. And it will reveal the world as lived daily by the engineers and test pilots who knew how much was left to be understood among the hazards of the dream.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Scaled Composites Model 339 SpaceShipTwo (SS2) is a suborbital, air-launched spaceplane designed for space tourism. It is under development as part of the Tier 1b program under contract to The Spaceship Company, a California-based company that is wholly owned by its sister company Virgin Galactic. The Spaceship Company was formerly a joint venture between Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites, but Virgin became the company’s sole owner in 2012.
SpaceShipTwo is carried to its launch altitude by a jet-powered mothership, the Scaled Composites White Knight Two, before being released to fly on into the upper atmosphere, powered by a rocket motor. It then glides back to Earth and performs a conventional runway landing. The spaceship was officially unveiled to the public on 7 December 2009 at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. On 29 April 2013, after nearly three years of unpowered testing, the spacecraft successfully performed its first powered test flight.
Virgin Galactic plans to operate a fleet of five SpaceShipTwo spaceplanes in a private passenger-carrying service, starting in 2014, and have been taking bookings for some time, with a suborbital flight carrying an initial ticket price of US$200,000. The spaceplane could also be used to carry scientific payloads for NASA and other organizations.
On 31 October 2014 during a test flight, VSS Enterprise, the first SpaceShipTwo craft, experienced an in-flight anomaly followed by a catastrophic explosion and crash in the Mojave desert. One pilot was confirmed dead, another is being treated for serious injuries. 
A schematic diagram of SpaceShipTwo.
The SpaceShipTwo project is based in part on technology developed for the first-generation SpaceShipOne, which was part of the Scaled Composites Tier One program, funded by Paul Allen. The Spaceship Company licenses this technology from Mojave Aerospace Ventures, a joint venture of Paul Allen and Burt Rutan, the designer of the predecessor technology.
SpaceShipTwo is a low-aspect-ratio passenger spaceplane. Its capacity will be eight people: six passengers and two pilots. The apogee of the new craft will be approximately 110 km (68 mi) in the lower thermosphere, 10 km (6.2 mi) higher than the Kármán line which was SpaceShipOne’s target (though the last flight of SpaceShipOne reached a one-time altitude of 112 km (70 mi)). SpaceShipTwo will reach 4,200 km/h (2,600 mph), using a single hybrid rocket motor – the RocketMotorTwo. It launches from its mothership,White Knight Two, at an altitude of 15,000 metres (50,000 ft), and reaches supersonic speed within 8 seconds. After 70 seconds, the rocket motor cuts out and the spacecraft will coast to its peak altitude. SpaceShipTwo’s crew cabin is 3.7 m (12 ft) long and 2.3 m (7.5 ft) in diameter. The wing span is 8.2 m (27 ft), the length is 18 m (60 ft) and the tail height is 4.6 m (15 ft) .
SpaceShipTwo uses a feathered reentry system, feasible due to the low speed of reentry – by contrast, the Space Shuttle and other orbital spacecraft re-enter at orbital speeds, closer to 25,000 km/h (16,000 mph) , using heat shields. SpaceShipTwo is furthermore designed to re-enter the atmosphere at any angle. It will decelerate through the atmosphere, switching to a gliding position at an altitude of 24 km (15 mi), and will take 25 minutes to glide back to the spaceport.
SpaceShipTwo and White Knight Two are, respectively, roughly twice the size of the first-generation SpaceShipOne and mothership White Knight, which won theAnsari X Prize in 2004. SpaceShipTwo has 43 and 33 cm (17 and 13 in) -diameter windows for the passengers’ viewing pleasure, and all seats will recline back during landing to decrease the discomfort of G-forces. Reportedly, the craft can land safely even if a catastrophic failure occurs during flight. In 2008, Burt Rutan remarked on the safety of the vehicle:
This vehicle is designed to go into the atmosphere in the worst case straight in or upside down and it’ll correct. This is designed to be at least as safe as the early airliners in the 1920s…Don’t believe anyone that tells you that the safety will be the same as a modern airliner, which has been around for 70 years.
In September 2011, the safety of SpaceShipTwo’s feathered reentry system was tested when the crew briefly lost control of the craft during a gliding test flight. Control was reestablished after the spaceplane entered its feathered configuration, and it landed safely after a 7-minute flight.
Fleet and launch site
The launch customer of SpaceShipTwo is Virgin Galactic, who have ordered five vehicles. The first two were named VSS (Virgin Space Ship) Enterpriseand VSS Voyager. As of August 2013, only VSS Enterprise has been flown; VSS Voyager has yet to begin flight tests. The WhiteKnightTwo carrying SpaceShipTwo crafts will take off from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California during testing. Spaceport America – formerly Southwest Regional Spaceport, a US$212 million spaceport in New Mexico partly funded by the state government – will become the permanent launch site when commercial launches begin.
On 28 September 2006, Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson unveiled a mock-up of the SpaceShipTwo passenger cabin at the NextFest exposition at theJavits Convention Center in New York. The design of the vehicle was revealed to the press in January 2008, with the statement that the vehicle itself was around 60% complete. On 7 December 2009, the official unveiling and rollout of SpaceShipTwo took place. The event involved the first SpaceShipTwo being christened by then-Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger as the VSS Enterprise.
2007 test explosion
On 26 July 2007, an explosion occurred during an oxidizer flow test at the Mojave Air and Space Port, where early-stage tests were being conducted on SpaceShipTwo’s systems. The oxidizer test included filling the oxidizer tank with 4,500 kilograms (10,000 lb) of nitrous oxide, followed by a 15-second cold-flow injector test. Although the tests did not ignite the gas, three employees were killed and three injured, two critically and one seriously, by flying shrapnel.
The hybrid rocket engine design for SpaceShipTwo has been problematic and caused extensive delays to the flight test program. The original rocket motor design was based on hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene (HTPB) fuel and nitrous oxide oxidizer – sometimes referred to as an N2O/HTPB engine – from 2009–early 2014. In May 2014, the engine design was switched from a HTPB to a polyamide fuel formulation.
Main article: RocketMotorTwo
Between 2005 and 2009, Scaled Composites conducted numerous small-scale rocket tests to evaluate SpaceShipTwo’s engine design. After settling on the RocketMotorTwo hybrid rocket design, the company began performing full-scale hot-fire rocket tests in April 2009. By December 2012, 15 full-scale tests had been successfully conducted, and additional ground tests continued into March 2013. In June 2012, the FAA issued a rocket testing permit to Scaled Composites, allowing it to begin SS2 test flights powered by RocketMotorTwo; the first such powered flight took place on 29 April 2013. The HTPB RocketMotorTwo design generated 60,000 lbf (270 kN) of thrust.
2014 Change of fuel
In May 2014, Virgin Galactic announced a change to the fuel to be used in the SpaceShipTwo rocket engine. Rather than the rubber-based HTPB—HTPB engines had experienced serious engine stability issues on firings longer than approximately 20 seconds—the engine will now use a type of plastic called thermoplasticpolyamide as the solid fuel. The plastic fuel is projected to have better performance (by several unspecified measures) and will allow SpaceShipTwo to make flights to a higher altitude.
As of May 2014, the new engine has already completed full-duration burns of over 60 seconds in ground tests on an engine test stand.
SpaceShipTwo test flights
Main article: VSS Enterprise
A view of the firing of SpaceShipTwo’s rocket motors during its first powered flight in April 2013.
As of October 2014, SpaceShipTwo has conducted 54 test flights. The spacecraft has used its “feathered” wing configuration during ten of these test flights.
In September 2012, Virgin Galactic announced that the unpowered subsonic glide flight test program was essentially complete. In October 2012, Scaled Composites installed key components of the rocket motor, and SpaceShipTwo performed its first glide flight with the engine installed in December 2012.
The spacecraft’s first powered test flight took place on 29 April 2013. Spaceshiptwo reached supersonic speeds in this first powered flight. On 5 September 2013, the second powered flight was made by SpaceShipTwo. The first powered test flight of 2014—and third overall—occurred 10 January 2014. The spacecraft reached an altitude of 22,000 metres (71,000 ft) (the highest to date) and a speed of Mach 1.4. The WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft released SpaceShipTwo (VSS Enterprise) at an altitude of 14,000 metres (46,000 ft) .
SpaceShipTwo’s total development costs were estimated at around $400 million in May 2011, a significant increase over the 2007 estimate of $108 million.
October 2014 crash
On October 31, 2014, SpaceShipTwo suffered an “anomaly” during a powered flight test, resulting in a crash killing one pilot and injuring the other. It was the first flight to use the new type of fuel.
The duration of the flights will be approximately 2.5 hours, though only a few minutes of that will be in space. The price will initially be $200,000. More than 65,000 would-be space tourists applied for the first batch of 100 tickets. By December 2007, Virgin Galactic had 200 paid-up customers on its books for the early flights, and 95% were passing the 6-8 g centrifuge tests. By the start of 2011, that number had increased to over 400 paid customers, and to 575 by early 2013. In April 2013, Virgin Galactic announced that the price for a seat would increase 25 percent to $250,000 before the middle of May 2013, and would remain at $250,000 “until the first 1,000 people have traveled, so that it matches up with inflation since [Virgin Galactic] started.”
Following 50–100 test flights, the first paying customers are expected to fly aboard the craft in 2014. Refining the projected schedule in late 2009, Virgin Galactic declined to announce a firm timetable for commercial flights, but did reiterate that initial flights would take place from Spaceport America. Operational roll-out will be based on a “safety-driven schedule”. In addition to making suborbital passenger launches, Virgin Galactic will market SpaceShipTwo for suborbital space sciencemissions.
NASA sRLV program
By March 2011, Virgin Galactic had submitted SpaceShipTwo as a reusable launch vehicle for carrying research payloads in response to NASA‘s suborbital reusable launch vehicle (sRLV) solicitation, which is a part of the agency’s Flight Opportunities Program. Virgin projects research flights with a peak altitude of 110 km (68 mi) and a duration of approximately 90 minutes. These flights will provide approximately four minutes of microgravity for research payloads. Payload mass and microgravity levels have not yet been specified. The NASA research flights could begin during the test flight certification program for SpaceShipTwo.
In August 2005, the president of Virgin Galactic stated that if the suborbital service with SpaceShipTwo is successful, the follow-up SpaceShipThree will be an orbital craft. In 2008, Virgin Galactic changed their plans and decided to make it a high-speed passenger vehicle, offering transport through point-to-point suborbital spaceflight.
While the first WhiteKnightTwo and the first SpaceShipTwo were built by Scaled Composites, The Spaceship Company has responsibility for the manufacture of the second WK2 aircraft and the second SS2 spacecraft for Virgin Galactic, as well as additional production craft as other customers for the vehicles emerge. In October 2010, TSC announced plans to build three WhiteKnightTwo aircraft and five SpaceShipTwo spaceplanes.
- Crew: 2
- Capacity: 6 passengers
- Length: 18.3 m (60 ft)
- Wingspan: 8.3 m (27 ft)
- Height: 5.5 m (18 ft – rudders down)
- Loaded weight: 9,740 kg (21,428 lb)
- Powerplant: 1 × RocketMotorTwo liquid/solid hybrid rocket engine
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Story 1: State Department Considers Importing Ebola Patients From Other Countries At A Cost Exceeding $500,000 Per Patient — Keep Infected Ebola Aliens, Legal and Illegal, Out of The United States — People’s Common Sense Vs. Elitist Arrogant Nonsense — When will America Be Ebola and Obama Free — Friday, 20 January 2017, Noon in Washington DC — Videos
Ebola death toll reaches 5,000: actual figure could be triple this, WHO reports
Nigeria declared Ebola-free – Global preparedness at peak
WHO Declares Nigeria Free Of Ebola Virus Disease
How is the end of an Ebola outbreak decided and declared?
Who decides the date?
The WHO Ebola outbreak response team is responsible for establishing the date of the end of the outbreak in collaboration with the affected country’s subcommittee for surveillance, epidemiology and laboratory.
How is the date determined?
An Ebola virus disease outbreak in a country can be declared over once 42 days have passed and no new cases have been detected. The 42 days represents twice the maximum incubation period for Ebola (21 days). This 42-day period starts from the last day that any person in the country had contact with a confirmed or probable Ebola case.
This includes health care workers who have been exposed to patients with Ebola virus disease, even if the health worker was wearing personal protective equipment and followed infection control procedures since such a person could be exposed accidentally without realizing it. In the setting of an Ebola treatment centre, the date of the last infectious contact is defined as the day when the last patient in the treatment centre tested negative for Ebola virus disease, using a real-time reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.
If no new case has been detected at the end of this 42-day period, the risk of a further case is very low, and the outbreak is declared over.
Why 42 days?
The maximum incubation period for Ebola virus disease is 21 days. The 42-day period set by WHO (twice the maximum incubation period) provides a margin of security to cover any possible missed cases, uncertainty in reporting dates or hidden chains of transmission. (*)
During the 42-day period, the surveillance system should be fully functional, so that all contacts of the last patient are followed to detect possible chains of transmission.
What is the procedure to make the declaration?
The WHO Ebola outbreak response team in collaboration with the affected country’s subcommittee for surveillance, epidemiology and laboratory determines the date of the end of the epidemic. The government of the affected country, in collaboration with WHO and international partners, makes an official declaration of the end of the epidemic.
Are the Ebola outbreaks in Nigeria and Senegal over?
Not quite yet.
If the active surveillance for new cases that is currently in place continues, and no new cases are detected, WHO will declare the end of the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Senegal on Friday 17 October. Likewise, Nigeria is expected to have passed through the requisite 42 days, with active surveillance for new cases in place and none detected, on Monday 20 October.
For Nigeria, WHO confirms that tracing of people known to have contact with an Ebola patient reached 100% in Lagos and 98% in Port Harcourt. In a piece of world-class epidemiological detective work, all confirmed cases in Nigeria were eventually linked back to the Liberian air traveller who introduced the virus into the country on 20 July.
The anticipated declaration by WHO that the outbreaks in these 2 countries are over will give the world some welcome news in an epidemic that elsewhere remains out of control in 3 West African nations.
In Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, new cases continue to explode in areas that looked like they were coming under control. An unusual characteristic of this epidemic is a persistent cyclical pattern of gradual dips in the number of new cases, followed by sudden flare-ups. WHO epidemiologists see no signs that the outbreaks in any of these 3 countries are coming under control.
How does WHO declare the end of an Ebola outbreak?
A WHO subcommittee on surveillance, epidemiology, and laboratory testing is responsible for establishing the date of the end of an Ebola outbreak.
The date is fixed according to rigorous epidemiological criteria based on the last day that any person in the country had contact with a confirmed or probable Ebola case.*
According to WHO recommendations, health care workers who have attended patients or cleaned their rooms should be considered as “close contacts” and monitored for 21 days after the last exposure, even if their contact with a patient occurred when they were fully protected by wearing personal protective equipment.
For health care workers, the date of the “last infectious contact” is the day when the last patient in a health facility tests negative using a real-time reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.
For WHO to declare an Ebola outbreak over, a country must pass through 42 days, with active surveillance demonstrably in place, supported by good diagnostic capacity, and with no new cases detected. Active surveillance is essential to detect chains of transmission that might otherwise remain hidden.
The period of 42 days, with active case-finding in place, is twice the maximum incubation period for Ebola virus disease and is considered by WHO as sufficient to generate confidence in a declaration that an Ebola outbreak has ended.
Recent studies conducted in West Africa have demonstrated that 95% of confirmed cases have an incubation period in the range of 1 to 21 days; 98% have an incubation period that falls within the 1 to 42 day interval. WHO is therefore confident that detection of no new cases, with active surveillance in place, throughout this 42-day period means that an Ebola outbreak is indeed over.
The announcement that the outbreaks are over, in line with the dates fixed by the subcommittee on surveillance, epidemiology, and laboratory testing, is made by the governments of the affected countries in close collaboration with WHO and its international partners.
Official announcements for the 2 countries will be made on the WHO website.
WHO recommendations for testing for Ebola virus disease and confirming a case
WHO is alarmed by media reports of suspected Ebola cases imported into new countries that are said, by government officials or ministries of health, to be discarded as “negative” within hours after the suspected case enters the country.
Such rapid determination of infection status is impossible, casting grave doubts on some of the official information that is being communicated to the public and the media.
- For early detection of Ebola virus in suspected or probable cases, detection of viral ribonucleic acid (RNA) or viral antigen are the recommended tests.
- Laboratory-confirmed cases must test positive for the presence of the Ebola virus, either by detection of viral RNA by RT-PCR, and/or by detection of Ebola antigen by a specific Antigen detection test, and/or by detection of immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies directed against Ebola.
- Two negative RT-PCR test results, at least 48 hours apart, are required for a clinically asymptomatic patient to be discharged from hospital, or for a suspected Ebola case to be discarded as testing negative for the virus.
- Laboratory results should be communicated to WHO as quickly as possible, in addition to reporting under the requirements and within the timelines set out in the International Health Regulations, which are administered by WHO.
WHO recommends that the first 25 positive cases and 50 negative specimens detected by a country without a recognized national reference viral haemorrhagic fever laboratory should be sent for secondary confirmatory testing to a WHO collaborating centre, designed as specialized in the safe detection (at biosafety level IV) of viral haemorrhagic fevers.
Similarly, for countries with a national reference laboratory for viral haemorrhagic fevers, the initial positive cases should also be sent to a WHO collaborating centre for confirmation.
If results are concordant, laboratory results reported from the national reference laboratory would be accepted by WHO.
Non-American Ebola patients treated in US Minimum 500,000$ per Ebola.
GOP Rep’s Unverified Ebola Claim Shows How Quickly Fox Converts Allegations to Facts
Governor Christie On Quarantine Protocol: Nothing Has Changed
Chris Christie: N.J. Ebola quarantine policy ‘will not change’
Gov Christie With Gov Cuomo: Mandatory Quarantine Is To Protect People Of NY & NJ
Cuomo: Health workers in contact with Ebola patients to be confined to homes
Divisions on Ebola Quarantine Procedures Emerge in US
CDC warns against travel ban on Ebola-affected countries
How Ebola attacks the body
Ebola survivor lives with tragedy
EBOLA in New york – What do AMERICANS Know About EBOLA? – Watters World Ebola Edition O’Reilly
Jon Stewart Hilariously Mocks Ebola Hype, Rips Chris Christie For Being a ‘D*ck About Everything’
Shows: Jon Stewart blasts Chris Christie for Ebola response (10/28/2014)
Poll: 80 percent want Ebola quarantines
By Aaron Blake
President Obama is doing reasonably well on this whole Ebola thing — at least on the public relations front — but another new poll suggests Americans want him to take actions that he has resisted so far.
The poll, from CBS News, shows a whopping 80 percent of people want American citizens and legal residents returning from West Africa to be quarantined until it is determined that they are Ebola-free. Another 17 percent think they should be allowed to enter the country if they are symptom-free at the time.
The poll, notably, did not specify just how long such people would need to be quarantined — about 21 days — or where they would be quarantined. (Such specifics could conceivably reduce support.)
The poll echoes a Washington Post-ABC News poll from earlier this week that showed support for restricting entry from those same countries at 70 percent.
The White House struck a defiant tone on this issue on Wednesday, with Obama saying, “We don’t just react based on our fears. We react based on facts and judgment and making smart decisions.”
That seemed a clear — if indirect — shot at governors of both parties who have instituted quarantines in their states. One of them, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), released an American nurse from quarantine after the nurse publicly fought against it. The nurse, Kaci Hickox, had returned from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, and Christie said she was ill and they needed to rule out Ebola. She has since reportedly said she will not abide by the government’s quarantine in her home state of Maine.
The White House has stressed repeatedly that such travel restrictions and quarantines would be counter-productive, especially by discouraging medical professionals from traveling to West Africa to fight the disease at its source.
Do Americans believe there should be a quarantine to deal with Ebola?
By Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Anthony Salvanto and Fred Backus
A new CBS News poll finds that Americans overwhelmingly support quarantine for travelers arriving from West Africa. Eighty percent think U.S. citizens and legal residents returning from West Africa should be quarantined upon their arrival in the U.S. until it is certain they don’t have Ebola. Just 17 percent think they should be allowed to enter as long as they do not show symptoms of Ebola.
Polling began on the evening of Oct. 23, the night Dr. Craig Spencer became the first U.S. citizen to be diagnosed with Ebola inside the United States after contracting the disease in West Africa.
Americans are even more stringent when it comes to foreign visitors from West Africa. Just 14 percent think foreign visitors should be allowed to enter the U.S. as long as they show no symptoms of Ebola. Most–56 percent–think they should be quarantined upon arrival, while just over a quarter (27 percent) don’t think they should be allowed to enter the U.S. at all until the Ebola epidemic in West Africa is over.
Americans continue to show concern that the federal government is not adequately prepared to deal with an outbreak of Ebola in the United States. Fifty-six percent do not think the federal government is adequately prepared, and 66 percent feel the same way about their own local hospital.
Sixty-one percent of Americans are at least somewhat concerned that there will be a large outbreak of Ebola inside the United States within the next twelve months. Still, the percentage of Americans who are very concerned has dropped eight points, from 40 percent at the beginning of the month to 32 percent now.
And few Americans believe they or their family are directly at risk. Eighty-three percent of Americans don’t think it is likely that they or a member of their family will get Ebola, including 52 percent who say it is not likely at all.
This poll was conducted by telephone October 23-27, 2014 among 1,269 adults nationwide. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher. Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News by SSRS of Media, PA. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.
State Department plans to bring foreign Ebola patients to U.S.
The State Department has quietly made plans to bring Ebola-infected doctors and medical aides to the U.S. for treatment, according to an internal department document that argued the only way to get other countries to send medical teams to West Africa is to promise that the U.S. will be the world’s medical backstop.
Some countries “are implicitly or explicitly waiting for medevac assurances” before they will agree to send their own medical teams to join U.S. and U.N. aid workers on the ground, the State Department argues in the undated four-page memo, which was reviewed by The Washington Times.
“The United States needs to show leadership and act as we are asking others to act by admitting certain non-citizens into the country for medical treatment for Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) during the Ebola crisis,” says the four-page memo, which lists as its author Robert Sorenson, deputy director of the office of international health and biodefense.
More than 10,000 people have become infected with Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, and the U.S. has taken a lead role in arguing that the outbreak must be stopped in West Africa. President Obama has committed thousands of U.S. troops and has deployed American medical personnel, but other countries have been slow to follow.
In the memo, officials say their preference is for patients go to Europe, but there are some cases in which the U.S. is “the logical treatment destination for non-citizens.”
The document has been shared with Congress, where lawmakers already are nervous about the administration’s handling of the Ebola outbreak. The memo even details the expected price per patient, with transportation costs at $200,000 and treatment at $300,000.
Nurse Kaci Hickox says she won’t obey Maine’s Ebola quarantine: I won’t be ‘bullied by politicians’
Nurse Kaci Hickox — who remains symptom-free after spending three days in a New Jersey isolation tent after flying home from Ebola-stricken West Africa — remains under quarantine at home in Maine, but for only another day, she tells TODAY’s Matt Lauer.
“I don’t plan on sticking to the guidelines. I remain appalled by these home quarantine policies that have been forced upon me, even though I am in perfectly good health and feeling strong and have been this entire time completely symptom free,” said Hickox, who wouldn’t emerge from Maine’s 21-day voluntary quarantine until Nov. 10.
“I truly believe this policy is not scientifically nor constitutionally just, and so I’m not going to sit around and be bullied around by politicians and be forced to stay in my home when I am not a risk to the American public.”
Hickox, who pointed out that top health officials believe a quarantine is unnecessary unless someone develops symptoms, also said:
- She will pursue legal action if Maine forces her into continued isolation: “If the restrictions placed on me by the state of Maine are not lifted by Thursday morning, I will go to court to fight for my freedom.”
- She plans to return to Africa to help Ebola patients: “My work in Sierra Leone for four weeks was amazing and I feel privileged to have been able to fight this battle and I do plan on going back. It’s not just will I, it’s more of a when.”
- State officials should maintain health guidelines but New Jersey officials demonstrated a lack of scientific rationale: Hickox said policies need to be based on evidence, but what she saw at Newark airport showed no such basis. “I saw complete disorganization. I saw no leadership, and if you’re going to put a policy like that in place, that impedes on my civil rights, then you need to have the administrative details worked out before you start detaining me in an airport for no reason.”
Maine Governor Seeks to Make Nurse Abide by Quarantine
Ebola virus disease
- Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.
- The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.
- The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50%. Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks.
- The first EVD outbreaks occurred in remote villages in Central Africa, near tropical rainforests, but the most recent outbreak in west Africa has involved major urban as well as rural areas.
- Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Good outbreak control relies on applying a package of interventions, namely case management, surveillance and contact tracing, a good laboratory service, safe burials and social mobilisation.
- Early supportive care with rehydration, symptomatic treatment improves survival. There is as yet no licensed treatment proven to neutralise the virus but a range of blood, immunological and drug therapies are under development.
- There are currently no licensed Ebola vaccines but 2 potential candidates are undergoing evaluation.
The Ebola virus causes an acute, serious illness which is often fatal if untreated. Ebola virus disease (EVD) first appeared in 1976 in 2 simultaneous outbreaks, one in Nzara, Sudan, and the other in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. The latter occurred in a village near the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name.
The current outbreak in west Africa, (first cases notified in March 2014), is the largest and most complex Ebola outbreak since the Ebola virus was first discovered in 1976. There have been more cases and deaths in this outbreak than all others combined. It has also spread between countries starting in Guinea then spreading across land borders to Sierra Leone and Liberia, by air (1 traveller only) to Nigeria, and by land (1 traveller) to Senegal.
The most severely affected countries, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have very weak health systems, lacking human and infrastructural resources, having only recently emerged from long periods of conflict and instability. On August 8, the WHO Director-General declared this outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
A separate, unrelated Ebola outbreak began in Boende, Equateur, an isolated part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The virus family Filoviridae includes 3 genera: Cuevavirus, Marburgvirus, and Ebolavirus. There are 5 species that have been identified: Zaire, Bundibugyo, Sudan, Reston and Taï Forest. The first 3, Bundibugyo ebolavirus, Zaire ebolavirus, and Sudan ebolavirus have been associated with large outbreaks in Africa. The virus causing the 2014 west African outbreak belongs to the Zaire species.
It is thought that fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are natural Ebola virus hosts. Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found ill or dead or in the rainforest.
Ebola then spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids.
Health-care workers have frequently been infected while treating patients with suspected or confirmed EVD. This has occurred through close contact with patients when infection control precautions are not strictly practiced.
Burial ceremonies in which mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased person can also play a role in the transmission of Ebola.
People remain infectious as long as their blood and body fluids, including semen and breast milk, contain the virus. Men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery from illness.
Symptoms of Ebola virus disease
The incubation period, that is, the time interval from infection with the virus to onset of symptoms is 2 to 21 days. Humans are not infectious until they develop symptoms. First symptoms are the sudden onset of fever fatigue, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, symptoms of impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding (e.g. oozing from the gums, blood in the stools). Laboratory findings include low white blood cell and platelet counts and elevated liver enzymes.
It can be difficult to distinguish EVD from other infectious diseases such as malaria, typhoid fever and meningitis. Confirmation that symptoms are caused by Ebola virus infection are made using the following investigations:
- antibody-capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)
- antigen-capture detection tests
- serum neutralization test
- reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay
- electron microscopy
- virus isolation by cell culture.
Samples from patients are an extreme biohazard risk; laboratory testing on non-inactivated samples should be conducted under maximum biological containment conditions.
Treatment and vaccines
Supportive care-rehydration with oral or intravenous fluids- and treatment of specific symptoms, improves survival. There is as yet no proven treatment available for EVD. However, a range of potential treatments including blood products, immune therapies and drug therapies are currently being evaluated. No licensed vaccines are available yet, but 2 potential vaccines are undergoing human safety testing.
Prevention and control
Good outbreak control relies on applying a package of interventions, namely case management, surveillance and contact tracing, a good laboratory service, safe burials and social mobilisation. Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Raising awareness of risk factors for Ebola infection and protective measures that individuals can take is an effective way to reduce human transmission. Risk reduction messaging should focus on several factors:
- Reducing the risk of wildlife-to-human transmission from contact with infected fruit bats or monkeys/apes and the consumption of their raw meat. Animals should be handled with gloves and other appropriate protective clothing. Animal products (blood and meat) should be thoroughly cooked before consumption.
- Reducing the risk of human-to-human transmission from direct or close contact with people with Ebola symptoms, particularly with their bodily fluids. Gloves and appropriate personal protective equipment should be worn when taking care of ill patients at home. Regular hand washing is required after visiting patients in hospital, as well as after taking care of patients at home.
- Outbreak containment measures including prompt and safe burial of the dead, identifying people who may have been in contact with someone infected with Ebola, monitoring the health of contacts for 21 days, the importance of separating the healthy from the sick to prevent further spread, the importance of good hygiene and maintaining a clean environment.
Controlling infection in health-care settings:
Health-care workers should always take standard precautions when caring for patients, regardless of their presumed diagnosis. These include basic hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, use of personal protective equipment (to block splashes or other contact with infected materials), safe injection practices and safe burial practices.
Health-care workers caring for patients with suspected or confirmed Ebola virus should apply extra infection control measures to prevent contact with the patient’s blood and body fluids and contaminated surfaces or materials such as clothing and bedding. When in close contact (within 1 metre) of patients with EBV, health-care workers should wear face protection (a face shield or a medical mask and goggles), a clean, non-sterile long-sleeved gown, and gloves (sterile gloves for some procedures).
Laboratory workers are also at risk. Samples taken from humans and animals for investigation of Ebola infection should be handled by trained staff and processed in suitably equipped laboratories.
WHO aims to prevent Ebola outbreaks by maintaining surveillance for Ebola virus disease and supporting at-risk countries to developed preparedness plans. The document provides overall guidance for control of Ebola and Marburg virus outbreaks:
When an outbreak is detected WHO responds by supporting surveillance, community engagement, case management, laboratory services, contact tracing, infection control, logistical support and training and assistance with safe burial practices.
WHO has developed detailed advice on Ebola infection prevention and control:
Table: Chronology of previous Ebola virus disease outbreaks
||Democratic Republic of Congo
||Democratic Republic of Congo
||Democratic Republic of Congo
||South Africa (ex-Gabon)
||Democratic Republic of Congo
||Democratic Republic of Congo
||Democratic Republic of Congo
For more information contact:
WHO Media centre
Telephone: +41 22 791 2222
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Story 1: Good News and Bad News Concerning Ebola — 2 Nurses Ebola Free and 1 Doctor Has Confirmed Case of Ebola in New York City — Ebola Infected Dr. Craig Spencer Took A-Train, L-Train and High-Line – Went Bowling — Contact Tracing Begins — Airborne Ebola Theme Song — If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere, New York, New York — Videos
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Trey Gowdy vs Dr Lurie On Ron Klain Being Qualified For Ebola Czar. Ebola Hearing
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Doctor Explains Why Ebola Could Spread Through the Air
Purdue virologist warns Ebola could become airborne
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BioContainment Unit at The Nebraska Medical Center
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New York City, Bellevue Hospital nurse Belkys Fortune, left, and Teressa Celia, Associate Director of Infection Prevention and Control, pose in protective suits in an isolation room, in the Emergency Room of Bellevue Hospital.
Note: They are not wearing a
Biosafety Level 4 Positive Pressure Spacesuit!
(See above photos)
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Ebola Theme Song — New York, New York
Frank Sinatra-New York,New York
Frank Sinatra-New York,New York-Lyrics
Start spreadin’ the news, I’m leavin’ today
I want to be a part of it
New York, New York
These vagabond shoes, are longing to stray
Right through the very heart of it
New York, New YorkI want to wake up, in a city that never sleeps
And find I’m king of the hill
Top of the heapThese little town blues, are melting away
I’ll make a brand new start of it
In old New York
If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere
It’s up to you, New York..New YorkNew York…New York
I want to wake up, in a city that never sleeps
And find I’m A number one, top of the list
King of the hill, A number one….These little town blues, are melting away
I’ll make a brand new start of it
In old New York
If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere
It’s up to you, New York..New York New York!!!
Frank Sinatra – New York New York Song **Lyrics** [HD]
My Kind of Town (Chicago) – Frank Sinatra
“My Kind Of Town”
Now this could only happen to a guy like me
And only happen in a town like this
So may I say to each of you most gratef’lly
As I throw each one of you a kissThis is my kind of town, Chicago is
My kind of town, Chicago is
My kind of people, too
People who smile at youAnd each time I roam, Chicago is
Calling me home, Chicago is
Why I just grin like a clown
It’s my kind of town[brief instrumental]My kind of town, Chicago is
My kind of town, Chicago is
My kind of razzmatazz
And it has all that jazzAnd each time I leave, Chicago is
Tuggin’ my sleeve, Chicago is
The Wrigley Building, Chicago is
The Union Stockyard, Chicago is
One town that won’t let you down
It’s my kind of town
New York, New Jersey Set Up Mandatory Quarantine Requirement Amid Ebola Threat Christie: New Policy Has Already Been Used At Newark Liberty International Airport
In the wake of the first confirmed Ebola virus case in New York City, the states of New York and New Jersey have set up a new screening system that goes above and beyond the guidelines already set up by federal officials.
As CBS 2’s Alice Gainer reported, no other states have yet set up increased screening procedures for Ebola.
“We believe it’s appropriate to increase the current screening procedures from people coming from affected countries from the current (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention screening procedures),” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday afternoon. “We believe it within the State of New York and the State of New Jersey’s legal rights.”
Under the new rules, state officials will establish a risk level by considering the countries that people have visited and their level of possible exposure to Ebola.
EXTRA: More On Ebola From The CDC
The patients with the highest level of possible exposure will be automatically quarantined for 21 days at a government-regulated facility. Those with a lower risk will be monitored for temperature and symptoms, Cuomo explained.
The New York and New Jersey health departments will determine their own specific procedures for hospitalization and quarantine, and will provide a daily recap to state officials on the status of screening, New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said at the news conference.
The new procedures already have been put into use at Newark Liberty International Airport.
On Friday, a health care worker landed at Newark after treating Ebola patients in West Africa, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said at the news conference. A legal quarantine was issued for the woman, who was not a New Jersey resident and was set to go on to New York afterward.
“This woman, while her home residence is outside the area, said her next stop was going to be here in New York,” Christie said. “Governor Cuomo and I discussed it before we came out here, and a quarantine order will be issued.”
The woman will be quarantined in either New York or New Jersey, Christie said.
In discussing the new plan, Cuomo and Christie said a policy of voluntary quarantine simply does not go far enough.
“Voluntary quarantine – you know it’s almost an oxymoron. This is a very serious situation.” Cuomo said. “Voluntary quarantine – raise your right hand and promise you’re going to stay home for 21 days. We’ve seen what happens.”
The new rules were announced a day after Dr. Craig Spencer, a member of Doctors Without Borders, became New York City’s first Ebola patient.
He reported Thursday morning coming down with a fever and diarrhea and is being treated in an isolation ward at Bellevue Hospital, a designated Ebola center.
Spencer returned from West Africa last Friday after treating Ebola patients in Guinea with Doctors Without Borders. He arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport, passing the extensive CDC screening process.
“When he arrived in the United States, he was also well with no symptoms,” said New York City Health Commissioner Mary Travis Bassett.
Doctors Without Borders said per the guidelines it provides its staff members on their return from Ebola assignments, “the individual engaged in regular health monitoring and reported this development immediately.” But Spencer also took the subway, walked the High Line, and went bowling in Williamsburg, Brooklyn the day before he became sick.
“He was a doctor, and even he didn’t follow the guidelines,” Cuomo said.
With that in mind, the states have to lay down the law, the governors said.
“It’s too serious a situation to leave it to the honor system,” Cuomo said.
The CDC is reviewing its policy for health care workers returning from West Africa, but anyone flying into a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey airport will need to abide by the new procedures.
Ebola Arrives in New York. How Prepared Is the City to Handle It?
Dr. Craig Spencer, the health care worker who recently returned from Guinea and tested positive for the Ebola virus, is now the first patient to be treated at New York’s Bellevue Hospital.
But the hospital, as well as city, state and federal officials, have been working for weeks or more to ensure the city is ready to identify and treat Ebola cases.
This preparation reflects the now-proven fact that the longer the outbreak rages on in West Africa, the more likely it was that a patient would wind up in Western cities, including New York.
On Oct. 15, the state designated Bellevue Hospital Center as the facility to receive Ebola patients from among the city’s 11 public hospitals, and to receive transferred patients from other hospitals as well, in the event that any Ebola cases occur in the city.
According to a statement from the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, the hospital has four single-bed rooms in its infectious disease ward to treat “high probability or confirmed Ebola cases.” This part of the hospital also has a new laboratory that can test for Ebola, separate from the rest of the hospital’s labs, to handle Ebola blood samples.
Because the virus can be spread through contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids, careful handling of blood and other samples is necessary.
According to the statement:
The hospital is particularly well suited due to its long history of being on the front lines of epidemics and emerging public health threats, and managing an isolation unit for diseases, such as TB, for many years with support from and collaboration with the City Health Department.
Three other hospitals in New York City have also been designated by the state to treat suspected and confirmed Ebola cases, including Mt. Sinai and New York Presbyterian in Manhattan and Montefiore in the Bronx, according to Governor Cuomo’s Ebola preparedness plan.
None of these hospitals, including Bellevue, has an isolated biocontainment unit like those that have treated patients at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, and Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska.
Those specially-designed units can only hold nine patients at the same time.
The American public may not have much faith in ordinary hospitals to treat Ebola, considering that the only non-specialized hospital to treat Ebola patients, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, allowed the virus to spread to two nurses who worked on the original patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, who died of Ebola on Oct. 8. Both of the nurses are now being treated in a biocontainment unit.
The probability of an Ebola case in New York was always considerably higher than it was for many other cities in the U.S., given that two of the city’s international airports — JFK and Newark — are key gateways for travelers to and from West Africa, via stops in Europe or elsewhere in Africa.
“New York City is a frequent port of entry for travelers from West Africa, a home to communities of West African immigrants who travel back to their home countries, and a home to health care workers who travel to West Africa to treat Ebola patients,” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a report on Oct. 17.
“Ongoing transmission of Ebola virus in West Africa could result in an infected person arriving in NYC,” the report said. However, the chance that a New Yorker who has not traveled to an Ebola hotspot would come down with the virus is “extremely slim,” since the disease is only spread through direct contact with an infectious person’s bodily fluids.
Ultimately, it was a doctor who lived in the city who would bring the virus home.
In recent weeks, the New York Health Commissioner issued a “Commissioner’s Order” to all hospitals and ambulance services in the state, “requiring that they follow protocols for identification, isolation and medical evaluation of patients requiring care.”
The state has been conducting “unannounced drills” at hospitals and health care facilities to test preparedness for handling possible Ebola cases. The state has also involved the Metropalitan Transit Authority, which operates the city’s subways and buses, in training for encountering possible Ebola patients.
And a mass Ebola training for health care workers, which included demonstrations for putting on and taking off protective equipment, took place in the city on Oct. 21.
According to new guidelines the CDC issued on Monday, there are now 30 steps health care workers have to take every time they treat a patient with Ebola or Ebola-like symptoms.
At hospitals like Bellevue, actors have played the role of patients with Ebola symptoms have been part of the drills, and the city’s 911 operators have been told to ask people who call in with Ebola-like symptoms if they have recently traveled to West Africa, according to the Guardian.
As of Thursday, there have been nearly 10,000 cases of Ebola in West Africa, along with about 4,900 deaths. However, these figures are likely to be underestimates, since the lack of treatment facilities and other circumstances are causing many patients to go uncounted.
Doctor in New York City Is Sick With Ebola
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