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Europe Set To Build Experimental Transport Spacecraft

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the fly-me-to-the-moon dept.

Space 61

coondoggie writes "Looking to take a giant step toward taking part in low Earth orbit transportation, exploration and servicing of orbiting space structures, the European Space Agency today said it would team with Thales Alenia Space Italia to begin building an experimental spacecraft for launch in 2013. 'The 2t lifting body will attain an altitude of around 450 km, allowing it to reach a velocity of 7.5 km/s on entering the atmosphere. It will collect a large amount of data (PDF) during its hypersonic and supersonic flight, while it is being controlled by thrusters and aerodynamic flaps.'"

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61 comments

AMA backs hot-button health insurance mandate (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36522610)

The nation's largest physician's group has affirmed its support for a key part of President Obama's health care overhaul.

At its annual meeting in Chicago, the American Medical Association (AMA) voted to maintain its official position in favor of the "individual mandate," which requires nearly all Americans to purchase health insurance. The AMA prefers the term "individual responsibility."

"The AMA has strong policy in support of covering the uninsured, and we have renewed our commitment to achieving this through individual responsibility for health insurance with assistance for those who need it," Dr. Cecil Wilson, president of the AMA, said in a statement. "The AMA's policy supporting individual responsibility has bipartisan roots, helps Americans get the care they need when they need it and ends cost shifting from those who are uninsured to those who are insured."

The cheap option! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36522710)

It is cheaper to launch the Greeks into space then it is to bail them out!

The greeks are not being bailed out (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 2 years ago | (#36525114)

The greek bondholders (French and German banks) are being bailed out.

Re:The greeks are not being bailed out (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 2 years ago | (#36526700)

The greek bondholders (French and German banks) are being bailed out.

Yes, and when I declare bankruptcy, only my creditors (Visa, Mastercard, the bank holding my mortgage) are negatively affected. I, however, walk away whole and entirely unscathed.

Re:The greeks are not being bailed out (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 2 years ago | (#36535150)

You are not Greece.

Greece is a nation (until they hand over sovereignty in a few days), quite capable of re-implementing it's own currency.
 

Dang I misread this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36522722)

...as experimental transparent spacecraft.

Could not figure out why they would do that.

Re:Dang I misread this... (0)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 2 years ago | (#36523146)

Transparent would make it newsworthy, and very cool.. But as it is, they may as well do studies on whether it will ever be worth the effort to manufacture color TVs

Re:Dang I misread this... (2)

tloh (451585) | more than 2 years ago | (#36523190)

...as experimental transparent spacecraft.

Could not figure out why they would do that.

Wonder Woman in space. duh!

Landing zone (1)

Flyerman (1728812) | more than 2 years ago | (#36522740)

Europe is going to land their spacecraft in the Pacific?

I guess no one cares where their space men land anymore.

Re:Landing zone (4, Informative)

dlgeek (1065796) | more than 2 years ago | (#36523292)

Yes. You always launch spacecraft towards the east so that you get a velocity boost from the earth's rotation. This is a suborbital flight so it's basically a giant parabolic arc. If you're launching from Europe, it's not going to have time to go almost all the way around the world on an eastward path to hit the atlantic, so that leaves the Pacific.

Re:Landing zone (3, Informative)

MacAnkka (1172589) | more than 2 years ago | (#36525002)

It's not going to be launched from Europe. The launch vehicle is going to be Arianespace's Vega, which is launched from French Guiana, in South America.

Re:Landing zone (2)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#36527002)

Except for the Israelis. They launch to the west in a retrograde orbit because they don't want to drop launch debris on enemy countries.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shavit [wikipedia.org]

Re:Landing zone (0)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 2 years ago | (#36523334)

"Europe is going to land their spacecraft in the Pacific?"

Why not? It's close to the equator and that's where they are.

Guadeloupe, Martinique, Cayenne, Saint Barthelemy, Saint-Martin, Bora Bora ,Moorea, Papeete, Tahiti, Guiana, Loyalty, Mayotte, La Reunion, Saint-Pierre, Miquelon, Wallis, Futuna....

and that's only the French.

Re:Landing zone (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36524956)

Europe is going to land their spacecraft in the Pacific?

It's harder to miss.

Re:Landing zone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36528606)

"All these worlds are yours expect Europa. Attempt no landing there."

austarity (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36522766)

Wouldn't it be cheaper to just give up on the future.

I say we cut the tax rate to 5% and let the poor squat in our disused spacecraft hangers.

Just bitchin' (2)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#36522768)

(I really hate this morning, let's waste some time on /. Don't say I didn't warn you)

TFA - contrast (with things taken out of the context)

This goal will be achieved with IXV, which is the next step from the Atmospheric Reentry Demonstrator flight of 1998. More manoeuvrable and able to make precise landings, IXV is the 'intermediate' element of Europe's path to future developments with limited risks.

Then

The 2 t lifting body will attain an altitude of around 450 km, ...
The craft will then descend by parachute and land in the Pacific Ocean to await recovery and analysis.

Precise landing with a parachute, in the biggest ocean, awaiting then the recovery... yeah!

Re:Just bitchin' (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 2 years ago | (#36522840)

I wonder how cost effective it is to have an infrastructure built around water recovery when private industry as well as older U.S. shuttles are already working with land based landings. The whole concept just seems dated.

Re:Just bitchin' (2)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 2 years ago | (#36525356)

I would guess that:
* the US doesn't want to share all the details of shuttle technology.
* In engineering there is no substitute for doing, you may think you know how something works, but until you build and fly it...
* The shuttle design is antiquated, there are new materials, IT and functional developments that mean it makes sense to start again.
* This ship has different requirements to the shuttle it is not trying to be a cargo ship, a space lab, a spy plane, no need for massive cross range, etc
* By the logic of the shuttle works, why build a new design to do a similar thing; the 80386 processor works, why build an ARM processor?
* Not invented here: on every level people would rather re-invent the wheel themselves because it is fun, cool, and theirs.

Should I go on?

Re:Just bitchin' (1)

icebrain (944107) | more than 2 years ago | (#36526890)

They're using the water landings for development testing in case something goes wrong. Not many orphanages or schools or playgrounds to crash on in the middle of the ocean.

Re:Just bitchin' (1)

AmigaMMC (1103025) | more than 2 years ago | (#36536246)

Actually it seems to me that land recovery (aka landing) is a lot more costly as it requires a totally different aerodynamic design and instrumentation, plus training.

Re:Just bitchin' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36523708)

If the craft is supposed to "Land", doesn't that sort of require "land?" I mean, why do they call it a landing when you're not landing on LAND?

It should more appropriately be called a "splashdown", right?

Re:Just bitchin' (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#36529310)

Precise landing with a parachute, in the biggest ocean, awaiting then the recovery.

Was done back in the 1960's - all but two of the Apollo missions landed within two nautical miles of the target. The biggest miss was three nautical miles. (See the Entry, Splashdown, and Recovery [nasa.gov] page of Apollo By The Numbers [nasa.gov].)
 
I does sound kind of silly on the surface, but it a valuable capability. Precise landing means landing close to the recovery vessel which means faster recovery.

Re:Just bitchin' (1)

StarsAreAlsoFire (738726) | more than 2 years ago | (#36532332)

If you want to really feel the burn, compare:
- Current state of the project
- Total (expected) funding from now until (expected) commercial availability.
- Who is providing the funding.
- Expected transit times from, say, London to San Francisco
- Available transit corridors (hypersonic shock waves have somewhat more energy than supersonic versions. And flying a passenger liner into the ground at mach 5 could take out many, many city blocks.)
- Susceptibility to fatal mid-air collisions. The wing hitting anything more substantial than a butterfly at Mach 5+ isn't likely to be survivable. Not sure how fast the craft goes while below 18km (~60K feet), so maybe not an issue.
- System complexity.

Compare all of that to Virgin Galactic. http://www.virgingalactic.com/

Yea. Sure. Today the plan is to visit orbit. But once you can get a craft 60 miles up, going halfway around the planet just isn't that much more difficult.

Study, study, study just like a college student. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36522854)

The space program is just like a college student that refuses to leave school. All they do is studies. When are you going to get a job?!

Quit with this farting around and let's see a real program. Manufacturing, construction, mining, refining, something other than just study?

I can help with your study. If you launch it up it will come back down and get really really hot. (Didn't we already cover all this ground like 5 t imes since the 60's?)

Oh boy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36522858)

Rehashing 50 year old technology to go nowhere and do nothing! And we'll do it all with shale gas! Space, to boldly go where we went before!

Re:Oh boy! (1)

IrquiM (471313) | more than 2 years ago | (#36525192)

Well... the shuttles couldn't go anywhere either. Only good thing they did, was creating government funded jobs in the US.

Re:Oh boy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36528520)

Exactly my point. Our technology and resources have peaked with what we have now. There are no materials and no energy sources to allow the kind of delusional dreams the Space Nutters foam about. All this space stuff is government welfare for engineers. Hey, that's cool, as long as we all know it and don't actually think we'll have bungalows on Mars.

Typical.... (1, Flamebait)

deepershade (994429) | more than 2 years ago | (#36522960)

European nations are damned near bankrupt and going through austerity, but the EU demands more money to spend on unaccountable commissioners and MEP's who've never had their expenses signed off, free holidays, and idiotic projects such as arc manche that no one asked for or wants.... and now it seemingly has enough to start a new space project...

Un-fucking-believable.

Re:Typical.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36523288)

The ESA isn't part of the EU, and has non-EU members like Switzerland and Norway. France, Germany, Italy, the UK and Spain contribute the majority of the money themselves and most of the tech is designed and built in their countries.

Re:Typical.... (1)

quenda (644621) | more than 2 years ago | (#36528524)

The ESA isn't part of the EU, and has non-EU members like Switzerland and Norway. France, Germany, Italy, the UK and Spain contribute the majority of the money themselves and most of the tech is designed and built in their countries.

So just the rich EU members? Maybe the more economically troubled EU countries could start their own aerospace venture. They could call it "PIGS in Space".

America is worse off than Europe (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36524258)

America continues to spend ~$600 billion / year on its military and a continual several billion on its manned space program. Unlike America, Europe has invested in its infrastructure and education and not on a wasteful military, so it can afford temporary cutbacks. Unlike America, which has blown its money on Iraq, Afghanistan and the military in general. It is America that is screwed.

Re:Typical.... (2)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 2 years ago | (#36524414)

Actually France and Germany, the two biggest economies in Europe are supposed to be just fine and are probably the ones that provide most of the funding to this project. It's just Greece/Spain/Portugal/Ireland etc that nuked their economy.

Re:Typical.... (2)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 2 years ago | (#36525366)

No, some European nations are bankrupt. France, Germany etc are doing very nicely thank you and they are the ones (along with the UK, Netherlands etc) who are providing the money to bail out the other EU nations.
Besides, it's a stupid argument that because we can't cure poverty we shouldn't have a space program. That's like arguing that because we're starving we shouldn't write poetry, or try a new design of irrigation system, or work on that internal combustion engine we've been tinkering with.

Ok! No, wait.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36523118)

Who really authorizes such experimental and sketchy if not risky endeavors that leave more space junk floating dangerously overhead and burns more fuel and toxins into the atmosphere, wastes more non-renewable energy sources from the planet's limited resources and leaves a lot of people wondering what the hell for? I say WTF? What's going on here? Who's in charge here?

In every story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36523264)

People comment about how they misread the title. People on slashdot can't parse text well.

Re:In every story (1)

webmistressrachel (903577) | more than 2 years ago | (#36523328)

Everybody needs to read something twice every now and again, especially when skimming a list of headlines or an RSS feed, for example.

Sometimes what we mis-read is amusing or insightful, either in or out of context, and gets posted because people like to, you know, share their amusement or insights (that's what /. is for, you know, sharing). I know this first-hand, because I've done it myself.

dengli (-1)

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Link to actual press release (4, Informative)

pnot (96038) | more than 2 years ago | (#36523754)

Oh good, I see we've got today's mandatory link to Michael Cooney's Layer 8 blog at NetworkWorld, the convenient middleman between Slashdot and news. This time he hasn't even bothered linking to the actual press release he's regurgitating [esa.int], as far as I can tell. Still, more hits for NetworkWorld, that's what matters.

Anyone know if he's done a post on Bitcoin yet?

Re:Link to actual press release (1)

Opyros (1153335) | more than 2 years ago | (#36524006)

So now we need an "Oh no, it's Michael" tag?

Re:Link to actual press release (1)

IrquiM (471313) | more than 2 years ago | (#36525212)

Yes

Re:Link to actual press release (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36529830)

How about 'diemichaeldie', as it seemed to work last time?

Oblig. Simpsons (was Re:Link to actual press...) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36530276)

That's German, "Die, Michael, die!"

Italians building it? (1)

GNious (953874) | more than 2 years ago | (#36526334)

They're teaming up with Italians to build this? If they are anything like the Italians that (supposedly) build trains (Ansaldo), it will be delayed by a decade, fall apart during delivery and be 400% over budget.

Enjoy the upcoming fun, ESA.

Re:Italians building it? (1)

manoweb (1993306) | more than 2 years ago | (#36528350)

Apparently anyway Thales is "good enough" for NASA as it has provided over half of the pressurized volume on the US side of the ISS: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12614262 [bbc.co.uk] http://www.thalesaleniaspace-issmodules.com/ [thalesalen...odules.com]

Re:Italians building it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36529572)

Thales is not an Italian firm, this is a French firm (involved in almost every EADS project). I think Thales Alenia Space Italia is a joint venture between Thales and Alenia.

Space Travel for Europe (1)

SpacerOne (1898554) | more than 2 years ago | (#36550680)

It is nice to see that Europe, just like Nasa, is not interested in the advanced technology that is used by the Flying Saucer, which was discovered and patented. It would make all those rockets obsolete and the Propulsion Engineers would have to look for a new job. Better let the Russians or Chinese take over so that you can in the mean time start to compose excuses. You may get a Golden Handshake when you are laid off. Look at .
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