Boom – The Supersonic Startup Gets Support From Virgin

When you think of startups, you often think of a small group of people working on a new gadget or maybe a new piece of software. Boom is a little different, the startup looks to create the world’s fastest passenger plane.

Boom looks to create a plane that will go supersonic at speeds of around 2.2 times the speed of sound. Compared to traditional airlines, which travel at Mach 0.85, Boom would outshine them at every turn and even the Concord traveled at only Mach 2.0. This would mean that Boom’s passenger jet would offer travel times of 3.5 hours from New York to London and only 4.5 hours for San Fransisco to Tokyo.

While the project is in its early stages the company looks strong with its 11 employees contributing on 787’s, fighter jets and spaceships. The project just gets bigger and bigger with Virgin Group optioning ten planes in a deal that comes in at around $2 billion. This isn’t their biggest contract, with another group (who choose to remain unnamed) optioning 15 at an amazing $5 billion.

This doesn’t mean they’ve been bought, but instead that once the plans and designs for the planes are in full swing, they will purchase them. It is a letter of intent meant to show their interest, something that relies heavily on the results of Boom successfully designing, creating and testing a successful supersonic jet.

The deal gets only sweeter with The Spaceship Company, Virgin Galactic’s space division, offering to help build and test the planes. With big names like that backing and supporting your group, our eyes are open to the possibility of quick flights around the world at supersonic speeds in the not too distant future.

Virgin Galactic Prepares to Launch SpaceShipTwo

Richard Branson has announced that Virgin is soon set to launch the latest version of its SpaceShipTwo, the result of 700 engineers working “day and night,” Branson told UK TV show Good Morning Britain (via Wired).

The last iteration of SpaceShipTwo fell victim to an unfortunate explosion 18 months ago, which killed its pilot. The accident, which occurred in October 2014 at 45,000ft above the Mojave Desert, California, took the life of test pilot Mike Alsbury and seriously injured co-pilot Peter Siebold. “We’re nearly back on track and hopefully it’ll be seen as an historic day in the years to come,” Branson said.

SpaceShipTwo marks a renewed attempt by Virgin Galactic to conduct commercial flights into space. A seat on the orbital spacecraft is estimated to cost around $250,000.

“It’s not that dissimilar to when airline travel started in the 1920s. Initially, people were paying the equivalent of the kind of prices people are paying on Virgin Galactic. Over the years the prices come down dramatically,” Branson told ABC News.

Virgin Galactic has not yet revealed when it intends to make its first commercial spaceflight, though Branson references a decade-long strategy. “I’m not being drawn on specific dates, I’ve made that mistake before,” Branson added during Good Morning Britain. “Today is the unveiling, the test program then starts over the next 12 months and we’ll see how it goes. Hopefully we’re near the end of a ten-year program to get us this far.”

New Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo set for February 2016 Reveal

Eager to take a trip to space within your lifetime? So long as you’ve got the money for it, the Virgin Galactic team are still working hard to bring commercial space flight to the (well-paying) masses and after the tragic accident in 2014 which killed one pilot and hospitalised another, the team appear to be making progress working on the latest version of SpaceShipTwo; their revolutionary new space plane.

“I think we are in a much better place than we might have expected in the period immediately after the accident, and that’s because our team came together, our customers stuck with us, and honestly we believe that the vehicle itself is sound.” Virgin Galactic chief executive George Whitesides said in an interview.

The new plane is set to be revealed in February 2016, with test flights set to begin shortly afterwards. This is interesting, given that Branson has been criticised in the past for being too aggressive with the planning of Virgin Galactic, perhaps even rushing things. However, with enough money and a big enough team, the gamble is starting to pay off and with people 700 already having tickets booked for many of the first flights, it’s going to be interesting to see just how long it is before the first paying customers take off.

There’s clearly still a lot of work to do, and prices are obviously going to be expensive for the flights, but would you take a trip with Virgin Galactic if you could? Let us know in the comments section below.

 

Virgin Media Planning £3B Broadband Network Upgrade

Virgin Media is planning to spend £3 billion on upgrade their existing network hardware in what is known as ‘Project Lightning.’ The new scheme will see broadband speeds of 152Mbps being provided to 4 million more UK homes.

The new scheme is said to provide the UK with 6,000 new jobs, 1,000 apprenticeships and more over the next five years.

The “Cable my Street” campaign will gauge public interest on where to install the new networks, although they’ll still favour areas that are near existing networks, which is no doubt bad news for those in rural areas.

“This could mean rural customers are knocked down the priority list if there aren’t enough residents in remote areas to convince Virgin to ‘Cable My Street’,” Ewan Taylor-Gibson, broadband analyst at uSwitch said.

This is still great news, but it does mean that already well-connected areas will develop their networks, while other areas remain in the dark.

Thank you CNET for providing us with this information.

Virgin Joining Race To Accessible Internet With “Most Satellites Ever”

Virgin is joining the race to provide internet access everywhere by “creating the world’s largest satellite constellation”. Joining the ranks of Facebook with its internet.org and Google with its Project Loon, Virgin aims to provide high speed internet to “billions”.

Virgin founder Richard Branson said in a blog post that the company will be utilising “Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne programme” to make satellite launches cheaper and easier than ever.

“Delighted to share news of an incredibly exciting project that could transform the world: we are creating a new constellation of satellites to make high speed internet and telephony available to billions of people who don’t currently have access.” 

Together with Qualcomm, Virgin has formed OneWeb Ltd, a company that will utilise the technology and infrastructure built for Virgin Galactic to get so many satellites into space. They say that the initiative will eventually provide internet access to three billion people who could not access it before.

This project is one of a number of global internet initiatives, like Facebook’s internet.org mobile internet project and Google’s Project Loon, which aims to provide remote internet access via giant weather balloons. Microsoft also pitched in recently with its plan to use TV spectrum in India.

Source: Virgin 

List of Blocked Torrent Sites in the UK Doubles

The High Court has ruled that 53 torrent websites be prohibited by UK Internet Service Providers, in the largest mass blocking yet. The list of sites include BitSoup, IP Torrents, Isohunt, Sumotorrent, Torrentdb, Torrentfunk, Torrentz, Warez BB, and Rapid Moviez. The Motion Picture Association (MPA) is responsible for submitting 32 of the requests.

The ISPs obliged to comply with the order are Sky, BT, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2, and Virgin.

Chris Marcich, president of the MPA’s European division, said, “Securing court orders requiring ISPs to block access to illegal websites is an accepted and legitimate measure to tackle online copyright infringement.”

According to Ernesto Van Der Sar, editor of Torrentfreak, the move will deter very few from accessing their favourite torrent site, explaining, “It deters a few people who can’t access their usual sites, but most people will try to find ones that are not yet blocked or use VPNs or proxy sites to get the same content.”

Source: BBC

Virgin Media Customers Lose Service After Internal Error

A number of Virgin Media customers found themselves starved of internet access last weekend, as a bug crashed the ISP’s child filtering system.

The Websafe service is utilised by Virgin to prevent children seeing inappropriate content, a system used by all UK ISPs. For customers, use of the service is optional, however it has been reported that too much of Virgin Media’s internet traffic was routed through the server in charge of the filtering, causing it to crash. Subsequently, a significant number of Virgin Media customers found themselves unable to access any websites on Saturday (8th November). Virgin has said that they apologised to customers, however a number of them responded in anger on social media, with many concerned that their browsing activity was being filtered even though they opted out of the service.

Virgin advised customers to reboot their router to fix the problem and they have since resolved the issues with the server itself.

Source: The Register

Fly from New York to China in 2 Hours by 2020

Have you ever sat in your 19 floor beach-side mansion and thought to yourself: “If only I could fly to Bejing and back in one day, that would make it much easier to attend Francine’s ballet recital”? Well now for those with copious amounts of funding, it’s going to be made possible.

Set for release in 2020, Sub-orbital commuter flights will be jet setting the worlds top 0.01% across the globe at a blistering pace of 40,000 miles per hour. Compared to the current 500 mph of commercial airliners, the speed does however come at a great price – between $90,000 and $250,000 we’ve learned.

Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson has indicated he’s looking into this business model to bring it to the public sector.

Aaron Pressman from Yahoo Finance commented on some issues with this technology development, showing it’s not quite ready for the general business man or woman:

“These [jets] can only take off and land in very special places like the spaceport that’s in New Mexico . That’s not going to help the 0.1% get from New York to London or Australia. So it’s going to take a while before these rockets become more like normal airplanes that can land at normal airports. [sic]” Yahoo

However, if this technology is worked on and improved, we could possibly see our grandchildren jet-setting across the globe in minimal time for current commercial airliner pricing.

Image courtesy of Neowin

Google Seek Investment in Virgin Galactic

It looks like Google are cracking out the their cheque book in style once again this week as they make a break for domination of outer space. Not only did they fork out a whopping $500 million a few days ago to acquire satellite maker Skybox, but now it has been reported that they’re also after a $30 million stake in Virgin Galactic, the Sir Richard Branson founded space flight company.

So why would Google want to invest in Sir Branson’s space company? Well they’ve just bought a satalite maker, now they’re going to need a way to launch them into space! The two companies could work together, feeding well off of each others innovations, on one hand Virgin Galactic gets a good line of extra funding and on the other, Google gets to launch its constellation of satellites using Virgins LauncherOne module.

Thank you Gigaom for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Design Boom.

Virgin Atlantic To Trial Google Glass On Flights

Virgin Atlantic are planning to run a six week trial, equipping their cabin crew with Google Glass to see if they can improve the level of customer service they provide to passengers. Google’s wearable tech could allow them to make passengers journeys more personalized, offering each passenger up to date flight information, weather and event information for their destination, translation of foreign language information and more.

“While it’s fantastic that more people can now fly than ever before, the fact that air travel has become so accessible has led to some of the sheen being lost for many passengers,” Dave Bulman, Director of IT, Virgin Atlantic, said in a press release.

When combined with other technologies Glass can provide all kinds of feedback to staff, such as updating passengers about each users dietary requirements and drinks preferences. If the pilot program proves successful then Virgin Atlantic could introduce it on a larger scale.

Thank you Reuters for providing us with this information.

Rural Internet Access: Finding High-speed Connections

The author of this article Sarah Bolloum advised her daughter to do a broadband speed test when she had some speed issues on her computer.

In rural communities, high-speed Internet access is not always easy to find. Even if a local provider offers service, your home might be ineligible for various reasons. Consider these tools and options to help locate a provider that serves your area.

Check with companies that offer other services

Sometimes, nationwide companies bundle different services for rural customers. For example, your telephone or satellite-TV provider might offer Internet access via satellite dish. Visit the company’s Web site, or make a phone call, to learn more.

Get on waiting lists

Waiting lists tell providers that they have potential customers in the area. If access is close to your home, but not quite there yet, a list of interested people might persuade the company to plan for expansion. This can take time—months, even years—but adding your information to the list does not take long. Afterward, you can move on and continue looking for other providers.

Search online for providers

Sites like DSLReports.com have searchable databases. These sites include different kinds of Internet connections; customer reviews; and multiple search options (by ZIP code, for example, or by state). Some companies that come up in your search results don’t serve your area, but others might.

Look for more than one kind of connection

You might not be able to get a Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) through your telephone provider, but what about a WISP (terrestrial wireless) connection from another provider? This kind of access is ideal for some people in rural areas. Others can use satellite dishes. In some parts of the country, cell-phone providers’ connections work well. Don’t limit yourself to one or two kinds of service; you might have other, unexplored options.

Use local resources

Ask your neighbors how they get Internet access at home. If the family next door has a high-speed provider, the odds are very good that you, too, can subscribe. Sometimes, providers advertise in your area. Keep an eye on billboards, the local newspaper, and even signs staked out in yards. Rural areas are no different from more-populated regions as far as advertising goes; companies find creative ways to get your attention.

You might have only one option other than dial-up. If that’s the case, keep looking while you make the most of what you have. Companies expand coverage areas on a regular basis. New providers move into underserved areas and set up shop. Businesses that offer other services expand. Keep looking, stay on the waiting lists, and talk with your neighbors; convincing them to express a desire for high-speed Internet in their homes can encourage a company to sell you all what you want.

Image courtesy of NYnet