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Construction On Spaceship Factory Set To Begin In the Mojave

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the want-a-lift? dept.

Space 147

angry tapir writes "A production facility that would build the world's first fleet of commercial spaceships is set to begin construction on Tuesday at the Mojave Air and Space Port. The facility will be home to The Spaceship Co, or TSC — a joint venture owned by Mojave-based Scaled Composites and British billionaire Richard Branson's space tourism company, Virgin Galactic."

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New Vegas... What about mutants? (3, Funny)

Tei (520358) | more than 3 years ago | (#34184488)

My suggestion is to have tiny crates all around with scraps metal and drugs.

Re:New Vegas... What about mutants? (1)

promythyus (1519707) | more than 3 years ago | (#34184956)

Soon the workers will start wishing for a nuclear winter!

Re:New Vegas... What about mutants? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34185108)

How come this isn't tagged "REPCONN" yet?

Re:New Vegas... What about mutants? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185666)

I'd say Branson IS a new clear winner!

Re:New Vegas... What about mutants? (1)

inerlogic (695302) | more than 3 years ago | (#34186066)

*emo tear* i am SO glad the first comment is from F:NV :)

Windows Mojave (0, Offtopic)

tsj5j (1159013) | more than 3 years ago | (#34184496)

Will those spaceships run on Windows Mojave?

I must be dreaming (3, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#34184514)

Headlines like that give me goosebumps.

Re:I must be dreaming (2, Informative)

Taxman415a (863020) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185066)

Yeah, I think a spaceship factory is kind of cool too, but with a name like Mojave Air and Space Port, I'm really disappointed there's been 30 some comments and no one has made a reference to the "wretched hive of scum and villainy", Mos Eisley. It's even out in the desert southwest where at least one of the far off shots from the film were done.

Re:I must be dreaming (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185742)

These aren't the space ports you're looking for [waves hand]

Re:I must be dreaming (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185958)

Mojave Air and Space Port

Almost an anagram of Mos Eisley. Any mesas nearby to shoot the obligatory vista scene?

Re:I must be dreaming (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 3 years ago | (#34186164)

Actually, yes... well, mountains and high rocks, anyway, and very long views. Not sure if you can see the spaceport, tho, since Mojave is at the edge of where the north fragment of the Antelope Valley gives way to rough country.

[I live about half an hour away]

Re:I must be dreaming (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185966)

One is indeed tempted to misdirect would-be spaceport visitors to the nearby aircraft boneyard. ;)

Re:I must be dreaming (1)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185744)

No kidding. There's nothing to distinguish this headline from one a character might see in any scifi novel. The concept of a private company building a factory solely to build spaceships (albeit 60km ones) is staggering.

Re:I must be dreaming (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 3 years ago | (#34186356)

Welcome to the year 2070! We hope you can adjust quickly to your environment. People are generally happier in this age, so I don't think you'll be lonely for long!

I'm waiting for an unearthly voice... (3, Funny)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34184516)

saying "We require more Vespene gas"

Re:I'm waiting for an unearthly voice... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34184524)

We've got the factory now. Next in queue: three boosters, cockpit, stasis chamber, engine.

(captcha: hexagons)

Re:I'm waiting for an unearthly voice... (1)

supertrinko (1396985) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185770)

You clearly need to build additional pylons.

Re:I'm waiting for an unearthly voice... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34184540)

They're clearly doing it all wrong. Factory is for ground units; build a spaceport ffs!

Re:I'm waiting for an unearthly voice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34184662)

Read the summary: "... the Mojave Air and Space Port"

Seriously, I'm thrilled by this kind of news.

long term plans? (3, Informative)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 3 years ago | (#34184528)

TFA mentions the factory will produce:
- three white-knight IIs
- five SpaceshipTwos

so, what will happen after these 8 builds? Any plans for spaceshipThree?

Cool stuff though, if branson can build some type of spaceshipthree which does orbital flight en masse, this might be the beginning of true private spaceflight

Re:long term plans? (3, Interesting)

Seth Kriticos (1227934) | more than 3 years ago | (#34184588)

Orbital flight is still future talk for them. The WhiteKnight/SpaceShipTwo combos can only do sub-orbital flights (around 100 km, half of orbital flight). But they are also quite cheep at $200k. Maybe in a few years they'll offer leo/geo flights too, or maybe even further.

Re:long term plans? (2, Informative)

damburger (981828) | more than 3 years ago | (#34184730)

100km suborbital is "half" of orbital flight? and this gets modded 'Informative'?

Presumably 'half' is a purely qualitative guess by someone who doesn't understand newtonian mechanics?

Hybrid rocket engines cannot give you the mass fraction to get into orbit. Those lightweight hulls cannot withstand the temperatures associated with re-entry from orbit. TSC isn't going to build an orbital spacecraft any time soon, sorry to burst your bubble.

Altitude is irrelevant. We need velocity! (3, Informative)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 3 years ago | (#34184844)

Altitude is quite irrelevant. It's velocity we need!

The potential energy of 1 kg at 250 km is 2.5 MJ/kg.
The kinetic energy of 1 kg at 7000 m/s is 25 MJ (10x as much!).
The atmosperic drag adds less than 20% to the energy requirements.

The point I try to make? We need velocity! How fast does that Space Ship go? (No, I didn't RTFA - it may be in there...)

p.s. 100 km is half orbital only because low earth orbit is at about 200 km.

Re:Altitude is irrelevant. We need velocity! (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 3 years ago | (#34184890)

The spaceship has essentially zero horizontal velocity, it flies directly upwards to gain the required altitude. In order to get to orbit, it would need to do as it does at the moment *in addition to* gaining that huge amount of kinetic energy you correctly calculated. Clearly, these 'SpaceShips' are no where near true orbital craft.

Re:Altitude is irrelevant. We need velocity! (1)

Magada (741361) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185236)

Hmm... how about skip-(power)gliding to gain speed once you get all the way up there? Go suborbital, let gravity slam you back down into thicker air at an angle shallow enough to ensure you're going back out like a pebble on a pond, fire up your scramjet again to skip back up, only a little faster this time... rinse, repeat.

It's perhaps impractical to do this with humans on board.

Re:Altitude is irrelevant. We need velocity! (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185292)

I don't have the maths with me, but I am fairly confident that won't work regardless of how many people on board.

Look at Skylon; a proposed design for an airbreathing rocket. The altitude at which it switches from atmospheric oxygen to on-board liquid oxygen is far lower than the altitude you could perform such a 'skip' maneouver at (which, by the way, decreases your velocity quite a bit. Most of the time, that is exactly why you do it)

There is a notion that if there is enough of a monetary prize out there, some magical process will allow entrepreneurs to find away around the collosal energy requirements of achieving orbit. This is fantasy I'm afraid.

Re:Altitude is irrelevant. We need velocity! (1)

Magada (741361) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185804)

Skylon was supposed to have hybrid ramjet/rocket engines, no? As opposed to a scramjet, I mean. A ramjet ceases to be useful around 5 mach or so, whereas a scramjet is supposed to top off at 20-something.

Re:Altitude is irrelevant. We need velocity! (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 3 years ago | (#34186430)

Skylon uses an air-breathing rocket engine. It isn't any kind of -jet at all. It doesn't work at as high speeds as a scramjet, but what it can do is switch to an internal oxygen supply at this speed, whereas with a scramjet you need a whole other engine, which is going to punish you quite severely in terms of mass fraction as you also require more plumbing and thrust structure.

In both cases, its pretty speculative technology.

Re:Altitude is irrelevant. We need velocity! (1)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185842)

Maybe for stage 2 we could put a massive orbital platform that could snag the spaceship with a tether and accelerate it the rest of the way? Then when they're ready to return then could use a big slingshot to slow it down for the drop.
Would need to work out the math for that...
Ech, low earth orbit doesn't really start until 200km. And even then it'd need to accelerate from roughly 0 to about 8km/s.

Living in a gravity well sucks

Re:Altitude is irrelevant. We need velocity! (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 3 years ago | (#34186264)

The maths isn't so much of a problem as engineering. Nobody has even attempted something so ambitious, and certainly a private space industry that is struggling sending very simple rockets to suborbital trajectories can't do it.

Re:long term plans? (1)

Speare (84249) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185490)

Given the rapid orbital decay of objects below approximately 200 km, the commonly accepted definition for LEO is between 160 - 2,000 km (100 - 1,240 miles) above the Earth's surface. --Wikipedia

Yes, speed is the key, but I can see why someone could rationally simplify the statement to "100km is roughly half of a LEO altitude." He wasn't giving a definition, he was simply pointing out that 100km isn't orbital, and giving one way of looking at the difference.

Re:long term plans? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185618)

Hybrid rocket engines cannot give you the mass fraction to get into orbit.

What makes you say that? There's nothing inherent in the design of a hybrid that precludes it. Obviously, they have a thrust to weight ratio sufficient to push SpaceShipOne to an orbital altitude. Getting to an orbital velocity is simply a matter of clusters and staging.

Re:long term plans? (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 3 years ago | (#34186288)

Once you introduce staging, the costs go up because it works less like a plane and more like a conventional rocket. Also, due to the abysmal performance of hybrids, you would need a fuckton of staging to do it.

Re:long term plans? (1)

Acetylane_Rain (1894120) | more than 3 years ago | (#34186026)

Hybrid rocket engines cannot give you the mass fraction to get into orbit.

And why not? I'm not a rocket scientist, but there's nothing in the literature I've read thus far that says hybrids can't be scaled up.

Those lightweight hulls cannot withstand the temperatures associated with re-entry from orbit.

True. But this has always been a puzzle to me. Why is heat shielding less important going up than going down? Why has nobody invented a spacecraft that can aerobrake without turning into a fireball? "Descent" velocity shouldn't be higher than escape velocity, right?

Re:long term plans? (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 3 years ago | (#34186380)

No matter how much you scale up a hybrid, the mass fraction and specific impulse will always be too crappy for serious spaceflight. You haven't read much of 'the literature' if you don't know this.

You also show your lack of knowledge with the second question. Rockets accelerate to orbital velocity outside the Earths atmosphere and thus do not heat up in the process. Spacecraft have to heat up that much during re-entry because that is the amount of kinetic energy they need to dump in the atmosphere. If they didn't, they would have to lose kinetic energy with a retro-rocket about the same size as the one that launched them.

Re:long term plans? (1)

ScientiaPotentiaEst (1635927) | more than 3 years ago | (#34186224)

"Hybrid rocket engines cannot give you the mass fraction to get into orbit."

Staged hybrids are certainly capable of reaching orbit. If you mean SSTO, then I'm aware of no single stage rocket with the mass fraction to get into orbit - regardless of rocket motor used. The Atlas booster/rocket came close. Still, it dropped it's two outboard motors - leaving the central sustainer running to achieve orbital velocity.

Re:long term plans? (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 3 years ago | (#34186342)

LOx/H2 can do SSTO but its a seriously tight margin. More likely technology is something that is partially airbreathing (i.e. Skylon or something based on the US scramjet research)

You can only use airbreathing for the lower altitudes and speeds, but it gets you a big boost because oxygen is such a large portion of the LOx/H2 mix.

However, this is a very difficult technology to master. Its almost certainly not going to provide access to space any cheaper than the big old nasty space agencies do.

Re:long term plans? (1)

ScientiaPotentiaEst (1635927) | more than 3 years ago | (#34186724)

As you identify, SCRAM jets work only in the atmosphere where it isn't practical to accelerate much beyond Mach 6. This is only a small fraction of the delta-V needed to get into orbit (not to mention a small fraction of the altitude necessary). The extra weight of the wings/lifting body shape and SCRAM components are a burden for most of the acceleration.

Regarding Skylon: as happened with the HOTOL design when it advanced, I suspect it will prove impractical if its design progresses. IMO the design is too big a leap - too many unknowns and assumptions.

Meanwhile, Atlas was 50 years ago nearly SSTO with the VT part of VTVL. And the DC-X demonstrated robustness and near-ground maneuverability in the early 90s (eventually succumbing to an undercarriage malfunction).

These considerations lead me to believe that a true SSTO vehicle will be in a non-airbreathing VTVL configuration. However, be it VTVL or HTHL, any practical SSTO will be a major advance I would welcome!

Re:long term plans? (3, Interesting)

kingturkey (930819) | more than 3 years ago | (#34184650)

Wikipedia says the plan for SpaceShipThree will be point-to-point sub-orbital flights rather than orbital as previously planned. But obviously that's contingent on their continuing success.

I'm truly amazed that they're this far along, I've previously written this stuff off as fantasy but it really is happening. There aren't hovercars but we're almost living in the future.

Re:long term plans? (2, Informative)

Lillebo (1561251) | more than 3 years ago | (#34184824)

There aren't hovercars but we're almost living in the future.

We're actually not that far away when it comes to hovercars either: DARPA's flying Humvee [goo.gl]

Re:long term plans? (2, Insightful)

delinear (991444) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185482)

I never really thought about it before, but surely the war on terror has killed the hover car as anything but a plaything for the super rich. Can you honestly imagine our twitch-reaction governments allowing people to fly around in cars? I can't even board a plane that someone else is flying without letting them pat-down search me and look in my shoes.

Re:long term plans? (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#34186424)

never really thought about it before, but surely the war on terror has killed the hover car as anything but a plaything for the super rich. Can you honestly imagine our twitch-reaction governments allowing people to fly around in cars? I can't even board a plane that someone else is flying without letting them pat-down search me and look in my shoes.

Honest Q : has the FAA changed commercial flight rules since that lone deranged "lone nut" teabagger flew his $150,000 private plane into the regional IRS headquarters?

Here comes the troll : oh, that's right, we're only skeered of them foreign, brown terrerists.

Re:long term plans? (2, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185016)

[quote]Wikipedia says the plan for SpaceShipThree will be point-to-point sub-orbital flights rather than orbital as previously planned. But obviously that's contingent on their continuing success.

I'm truly amazed that they're this far along, I've previously written this stuff off as fantasy but it really is happening. There aren't hovercars but we're almost living in the future.[/quote]

What's also nice is this approach seems more realistic, each stage of the process intended to generate a positive cashflow, the profits being rolled into the next stage. Too many of these projects try to do everything at once and never even get off the ground. So to the naysayers who go waa waa, this thing's only sub-orbital, just wait another generation or three.

Re:long term plans? (1)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185438)

yeah, i figured some kind of sub-orbital long distance travel would also be needed, but somehow i figured SS2 would be suited for that..

i would love for SSx to go for full orbital serial production

Re:long term plans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34185462)

I think you meant hoverboards.

Re:long term plans? (1)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185612)

I wanted to go all philosophical on you with "Technically, we'll always live in the present...", but I'm afraid that I'd get my a** handed to me if I start with this. :(

Re:long term plans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34186080)

Well, technically, it takes a few nano-seconds for light and sound to travel to you, and a few more for your brain to process the data and create a perception. You are always living in the past, not the present.

Re:long term plans? (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34184750)

Not if Malachi Constant has anything to do with it. In order to prove Winston Niles Rumfoord wrong he will cancel all the space projects so there will be no way he can go into space and fulfill the prophecy Rumfoord laid out....unless something goes terribly wrong.

Slightly early, but happy birthday Kurt, RIP.

Re:long term plans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34184850)

Will the other five Spaceship Twos be named after Star Trek ships as well?

(if so, I'm definitely *not* going to fly on Voyager! I saw what happened to them.....)

Re:long term plans? (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#34186540)

I guess we'll have to wait for the fully orbital SSx before we can have the VSS Minnow go on a "three hour tour"...

Probably best to steer clear of any space ship named VSS "Ironman" or VSS "Capricorn" for that matter.

Re:long term plans? (1)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185786)

I imagine this:

1. More people pay up because then it's for real.
2. Price goes down.
3. Repeat.

That's all they really need to get an industry jump-started, and get capital flowing in. With six passengers on board, each flight is worth 1.2 million USD. It's not hard to iterate that to get a significant operating budget.

Re:long term plans? (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 3 years ago | (#34186044)

All very excellent, but ... what's their destination?? They must have a private planet tucked away somewhere.

Fallout New Vegas?? (3, Funny)

Dudibob (1556875) | more than 3 years ago | (#34184574)

They should call this facility REPCONN Aerospace

I'm almost done with the Nights Dawn trilogy... (2, Interesting)

VMaN (164134) | more than 3 years ago | (#34184634)

.. and P.F. Hamilton likes to include timelines, e.g.

2020 — Cavius base established. Mining of lunar subcrustal resources starts.
2037 — Beginning of large-scale geneering on humans; improvement to immunology system, eradication of appendix, organ efficiency increased.
2041 — First deuterium-fuelled fusion stations built; inefficient and expensive.
2044 — Christian reunification.
2047 — First asteroid capture mission. beginning of Earth’s O’Neill halo.

I'd love to see this story as one of those timeline points...

Re:I'm almost done with the Nights Dawn trilogy... (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34184642)

A little off topic, but I'm just finishing the Void trilogy and I had a similar thought.

Re:I'm almost done with the Nights Dawn trilogy... (1)

Edzilla2000 (1261030) | more than 3 years ago | (#34184930)

That guy is the best modern science fiction writer, along with Iain M. Banks. His books are so good it's amazing

Re:I'm almost done with the Nights Dawn trilogy... (1)

Lillebo (1561251) | more than 3 years ago | (#34184910)

2044 — Christian reunification.

..?

Re:I'm almost done with the Nights Dawn trilogy... (1)

VMaN (164134) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185124)

protestant + catholic + other christians = new unified christian church

Re:I'm almost done with the Nights Dawn trilogy... (1)

a_hanso (1891616) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185092)

I'd rather see:

2010 -- Scrap all manned Moon/Mars missions for a decade. Fast-track Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF) and similar missions.
2014 -- Launch TPF and/or alternatives; First visible spectrum images of extra-solar planets that are not blurry specs
2015 -- First image of an earth-sized planet in the habitable region of a star
2016 -- First spectroscopic confirmation of an extra-solar oxygen-rich atmosphere and/or evidence of surface liquid water
-- World realizes we're now only one step away from detecting extra terrestrial life. NASA gets more funding.
2025 -- First grainy images of landmasses/clouds/seas on extra-solar planets. Vatican revises some of its positions. Other countries join the planet/life hunting race
2030 -- Image of kilometer-scale rectilinear structure in orbit around extra-solar planet. Alien life, alien intelligence and alien technology all more or less confirmed.
2031+ --- ??

Re:I'm almost done with the Nights Dawn trilogy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34185270)

2031 -- Profit!

Re:I'm almost done with the Nights Dawn trilogy... (2, Insightful)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 3 years ago | (#34186452)

I'm not Catholic but why would the Vatican need to revise positions based upon the discovery of other earth-like planets? Haven't they been saying for a awhile now that it's entirely possible other intelligent life could exist? One would assume intelligent life would likely come from some sort of habitable planet right? Or is there some fine grained difference between allowing for the the possibility of intelligent life and allowing for the possibility of earth-like planets that I'm missing?

FUCKIN-A !! WHAT ARE ODDS IT BLOWS UP ?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34184676)

And only the terminally ill need apply ??

Yes, everyone is terminally ill, but some are closer to their terminal.

What a way to go. Better than shitting yourself in your final weeks.

Taco? You signed up ??

Re:FUCKIN-A !! WHAT ARE ODDS IT BLOWS UP ?? (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 3 years ago | (#34184834)

Got a point actually. Especially considering a spokesman for the company said they were going to offer flights *into* the Aurora, with a few millimetres of plastic your only shielding. It'll be a very pretty sight, something that you would tell your grandkids about if the trip didn't sterilise you.

I know we are living the future... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34184686)

... when the headline starts with "Construction On Spaceship Factory Set To Begin In..."

Private Sector efficiency! (1, Informative)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#34184688)

How long it took NASA to grow to a level where it could launch big rockets! That is the Government inefficiency baby. Look at private enterprise. They launch rockets, even before they build the factory. http://www.lanewsmonitor.com/news/California-Missile-Mystery--Real-Missile-Launch-Or-Jet-Contrail-1289389883/ [lanewsmonitor.com]

Re:Private Sector efficiency! (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 3 years ago | (#34184746)

Ah yes, the private sector managing to replicate the X-15 flights of the 1960s, 50 years late! and doing so using demonstrably simpler and less powerful rocket technology (and handholding from NASA when their N20 tanks explode on the ground). Go free market!

Re:Private Sector efficiency! (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#34184900)

Whooosh!

Look up, you see the joke flying a mile over your head, with a contrail too!

Re:Private Sector efficiency! (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185060)

and doing so using demonstrably simpler and less powerful rocket technology

Since when is efficiency a bad thing?

Re:Private Sector efficiency! (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185202)

Its not efficiency, its dead-end technology. What the USAF (and by extension NASA) developed in the X-15 program directly fed into the development of future US spacecraft. The X-15 used a bipropellant liquid fueled engine, something that can potentially be upgraded to reach orbit. A hybrid rocket, as far as we can tell, can't practically be upgraded beyond what they are doing already (very low energy, sub-orbital millionaire hops).

Typical for a market fundamentalist, you misunderstand Occam's razor and assume the simplest (and thus cheapest) solution is *always* the best.

Re:Private Sector efficiency! (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34186488)

The first X-15 [wikipedia.org] flight was an unpowered test flight by Scott Crossfield, on 8 June 1959; he also piloted the first powered flight, on 17 September 1959, with his first XLR-99 flight on 15 November 1960. Twelve test pilots flew the X-15; among them were Neil Armstrong (first man to walk on the moon) and Joe Engle (a space shuttle commander). In July and August 1963, pilot Joe Walker crossed the 100 km altitude mark, joining the NASA astronauts and Soviet Cosmonauts as the only humans to have crossed the barrier into outer space (Soviet Yuri Gagarin was the first person in space, reaching 327 km in apogee of his orbital flight, while Alan Shepard was the first American in space, reaching 187 km during suborbital flight) and becoming the first to exceed this threshold twice.

Yet the Soviets had a man in space in 1961, [wikipedia.org] and had launched a satellite in 1957. [nasa.gov]

Re:Private Sector efficiency! (1)

vbraga (228124) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185176)

How long? NASA was created from NACA in July, 1958. The first manned suborbital flight (from NASA, since Vostok I did made a full orbital flight somewhat earlier) I remember is the Mercury-Redstone 3 in May, 1961. So, it took about three years. A full orbital flight - something Virgin will took many years to make if ever - was in February, 1962.

Re:Private Sector efficiency! (1)

a_hanso (1891616) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185400)

You need to account for Von Braun and co. They were working long before 1958

Re:Private Sector efficiency! (1)

vbraga (228124) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185710)

If accounting for the previous Von Braun work, we'd also need to account from Goddard work. And from the theoretical basis Goddard used.

We're all standing in the shoulders of giants, so to speak.

Re:Private Sector efficiency! (3, Insightful)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185658)

the government did this first in the days when supercomputers were less powerful than iphones and droids. back then the engineers had to actually do the math by hand and test everything via trial and error

Re:Private Sector efficiency! (1)

the_hellspawn (908071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185708)

Right, but NASA did a lot of the leg work. Virgin Galactic is just standing on the shoulders of giants flying paper air planes. You don't need a huge launch facility to fly a Cessna. Don't get me wrong I do think that Virgin Galactic is doing good things. Never-the-less, they are still on the shoulders of giants.

Your doing it wrong (2, Insightful)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34184732)

Yawn. Wake me when they start building an orbiting spaceship factory.

Virgin Galactic: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34184740)

A giant insect that produces fertile eggs without the need for a mate. Not sure I'm liking this one. You guys have seen [insert bug related sci fi flick here] haven't you?

Civ V! (1)

bheekling (976077) | more than 3 years ago | (#34184752)

16 comments and no one mentioned the obvious Civilisation V reference? I am a sad panda.

It's not a spaceship (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34184756)

The truth is that these are not spaceships in the sense that the shuttle is. They do not flew as high as the shuttle nor do they reach the Mach 25 speeds of the shuttle. What Virgin Galactic will be flying are special high altitude airplanes, and nothing more.

The Mojave Spaceport.... (5, Funny)

benwiggy (1262536) | more than 3 years ago | (#34184842)

You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.

Well, for a very broad definition of "space" (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185034)

It is a spaceship factory, if a few tens of Km over the surface of the Earth can be considered "space". But, let me not spoil it for the future "space tourists".

Transatlantic flight began like this... (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185248)

"It is a spaceship factory, if a few tens of Km over the surface of the Earth can be considered "space". But, let me not spoil it for the future "space tourists"."

Transatlantic air tourism across the Pacific Ocean in Boeing 747s began with retired WW1 pilots charging passengers to sit in the back seat of shaky 2 seater military planes for bumpy flights a few metres off the sea over the English Channel in the early 1920s.... Let's see where this goes before sneering too quickly.

or even transpacific ;-) (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185276)

haha, correcting myself! well if I am going to talk about "transatlantic" of course I should be referring to the Atlantic Ocean not the Pacific! doh! but you get what I mean about small steps leading to larger ones, I am sure...

Re:Well, for a very broad definition of "space" (1)

Venzor (1929328) | more than 3 years ago | (#34186902)

If this is what commercial space has to start off with in order to make money and build incentive for orbital flight, then I'm all for it. Though, I must agree with the dissatisfaction with the ambiguous usage of the term 'space' in spaceship and spaceflight.

Wretched hive of scum and villany (2, Funny)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185164)

Why not call it Mos Eisley?

Star Trek (1)

p0p0 (1841106) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185172)

I just pictured the ship yards from Star Trek and then I squealed a little to loud and woke up the dog.

General Products (1)

msk (6205) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185446)

It's going to be hard to feel safe in a spacecraft until we have something like General Products [wikipedia.org] hulls.

Re:General Products (1)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185730)

wow, talk about your deus ex machina "impervious to anything but light, antimater and gravity" that is like saying "always one more than you" in your classic playground match to see who gets the last word

Also, i wonder how you manage to feel safe in a car/bus/train, or if you never leave the house (because you dont feel safe in beforementioned modes of transportation) how you feel safe in a house. Given the possibility of huricanes, lightning strikes or meteorite impacts

Did their css file go missing or something? (1)

morgauxo (974071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185464)

Am I the only one this page is all messed up for? Things are out of position and there is a big black area where the text matches the background and I have to highlight it to read it. I'm using Firefox.

Call me a dreamer... (1)

Vernes (720223) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185546)

but the very fact that there is such a thing as a commercial Spaceship factory, it makes me giddy.

I did this quest! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34185594)

I did this quest, but at the end I decided to betray the ghouls and make the rockets crash into one another.

Wait... this isn't the New Vegas thread?

Should be Yellow Knight (0, Troll)

yt8znu35 (1202731) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185806)

Their first mistake was not building the factory in China.

Stop complaining (2, Insightful)

yodleboy (982200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185834)

Hey, can we stop complaining already? NASA and the rest of the space "industry" has had 50 years to make the geek dream of going into space possible for the (more or less) common man. Sub-orbital still counts as space, although it would seem it's not "enough" space for some.

NASA's manned program hasn't done much more than allow a select few to pedal circles around the planet since the end of Apollo. Sure, there were some amazing developments and innovations from that, but the act of getting to orbit? Who cares? You did that 50-ish years ago as well. The shuttle should never have gotten off the ground, and certainly should have been mothballed after Challenger. It was obvious by then that the program was vastly more expensive than expected anyway. All those satellites would have still gone up on conventional rockets, and much of the science could have been sent up in automated labs.

Imagine what 10 or 15 years of the manned spaceflight budget going into finding some other way into orbit might have produced. There have been proposals and ideas for decades, but with the shuttle eating up most of the budget, there was never the funding to really TRY. Sure it may have produced nothing at all (unlikely i think), but we'll never know.

Not trying to sound like a NASA hater, I love space and spaceflight. What I don't love is trillions of dollars spent to go in circles and make work for the astronaut corps.

I've seen how this ends... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34185868)

Three ships laden with ghouls flying off into the dawn sky.

Don't tell me this isn't a sign.

Northrop (2, Informative)

Cobalt Jacket (611660) | more than 3 years ago | (#34186052)

It should be noted that Scaled Composites has been a unit of Northrop Grumman for a couple of years now. With Burt Rutan retiring, it will become more under NGC control. However, NGC does not have a regular rocket launch unit as Boeing and Lockheed does, so there's no reason that NGC will not continue allowing Scaled Composites to prosper.

Shouldn't it be called 'shipyard' ? (2, Insightful)

macson_g (1551397) | more than 3 years ago | (#34186134)

Shouldn't it be called 'shipyard' instead of 'factory'?

Supply Demand (1)

brilanon (1121645) | more than 3 years ago | (#34186630)

Why would they have plans on hand for orbital spacecraft, what would those do

If someone wants to mine the moon this is someone they can go to

Exciting junk

Utility (1)

PunditGuy (1073446) | more than 3 years ago | (#34186776)

I don't want to go straight up and come right back down again. Can't they sub-orbit my ass to Sydney or something useful?

Delusional (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34186896)

It's like dipping your toe into the Atlantic Ocean and then claiming you've been to Europe. Space Nutters are hopelessly deluded, romantic naive fools. Oh well, keep getting excited over your overgrown fireworks, I'll keep rooting for life extension.

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